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Meals on Wheels facing greater need in ’07

By Paul Huggins · 340-2395

You rarely see their faces anymore.

They are homebound mostly, and even if they were healthy enough to leave the house, many can’t afford to go out.

Though these 385 elderly and disabled Morgan County residents are unseen to most of their neighbors, Meals on Wheels knows each one by name, understands their special needs and enlists an army of more than 100 volunteers to visit them each weekday.

The United Way agency has been able to deliver a warm meal to its clients five times a week for the past 30 years purely because of local community support, such as The Daily’s annual February fundraiser. It receives no federal or state assistance.

Sue Stancil, general services director for Community Action, which oversees Meals, said the need never goes away and so fundraising can never relax.

The good news is the program has rebounded from lackluster support in 2005, she said.

The fall of that year saw contributions it normally received redirected to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

$114,000 in contributions

That year’s contributions ended at $114,000. The program had to dip into reserves intended for vehicle replacement to stay afloat and even put 30 people on a temporary waiting list.

In 2006, it rebounded to $143,000, which was enough to eliminate the waiting list.

“We did really good last year,” Stancil said. “We were able to maintain and even put back some in reserve.”

But she didn’t hesitate to point out the program will have higher costs in 2007.

It needs to replace three delivery vans that are nine and 10 years old, respectively. Also, United Way, which supplies more than half its operation budget, is suffering a shortfall in its current campaign. Agencies could face a 10 percent cutback.

If that occurs, Meals would have to find a way to raise another $15,000 in addition to the extra money it needs for new vans.

The next three Sundays, the newspaper will introduce some of the people who benefit from your donations as well as the volunteers who stretch the value of that money, ensuring the donations help the most people possible.

Throughout the month, The Daily also will publish the names of anyone who contributes to the campaign unless they request anonymity.

Last year’s newspaper campaign raised $21,000 in February, the lowest in 10 years and about half of what the community raised in 2001.

Year-end donations sent to The Daily came to nearly $44,000. The second lowest since 2001.

How to give

The Decatur Daily accepts donations to Meals on Wheels throughout the year. During February, the newspaper publishes the names of donors unless they request anonymity.

Donors should specify how they wish their names listed in the newspaper. Send contributions to Meals on Wheels, c/o The Decatur Daily, P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609-2213.

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