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Hannah and Samuel Lackey help prepare dinners for Meals on Wheels as part of a Points of Light Youth Leadership community service project.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Hannah and Samuel Lackey help prepare dinners for Meals on Wheels as part of a Points of Light Youth Leadership community service project.

Delivering Meals on Wheels
Youth volunteers get close look at program, plan to help again

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com · 340-2395

Matt Millwood’s first involvement with Meals on Wheels had him and his three partners befuddled. Their apprehension from attempting something made them uneasy.

Until then, everything had gone smoothly since they arrived at a local television station at 6:45 a.m. to raise awareness for the hunger-fighting program. At 9 a.m. they helped pack 385 meals for the elderly and disabled Meals clients.

Then it was off to meet the clients and see if their preconceptions of finding feeble people on crutches and in wheelchairs were true.

Thirty minutes after packing their vehicle and heading toward Southeast Decatur, Millwood’s group hadn’t delivered their first meal.

Lost

“We’re completely lost,” Millwood, 13, said.

This included two fellow members of the Points of Light Leadership Institute, Hannah Lackey and Samuel Lackey, and one of their sponsors, Marian Beck.

They drove in circles because the first client’s address was listed wrong. Hannah Lackey, being from Hartselle, was unfamiliar with that part of Decatur’s quirky streets that end, disappear and then start again several blocks later.

Before they realized the mistake, they tried a house that almost matched the address on their delivery checklist. Samuel Lackey, 15, found an elderly women in a wheelchair with a thankful attitude.

Problem was the woman wasn’t a Meals client, but she had every intention of keeping the meal and even hoped to coax him into staying until her daughter arrived in a couple of hours.

He let her keep the meal, and then Beck called the correct client and learned she lived in the 1100 block instead of the 1600 block.

After more delays figuring out the street pattern around the growing medical district, the group arrived at East Acres and delivered the lunches before heading back to the Meals office to meet with the other members of the leadership group.

Millwood wondered if the other members finished first.

Hannah Lackey, 17, answered him with encouragement, “It’s OK. It’s not a race.”

The delivery trip was the conclusion to an eight-week course to teach leadership through community service.

The members of the group, which also included Cindy DeVoe, 14, Breonna Dunbar, 1`3, Clark Maxwell, 16, Laura Split-log, 16, and Dustin Millwood, 14, chose a hunger project; they felt it would have an immediate impact and could help the most people, given their limited time and resources.

Their mission complemented The Daily’s annual February fundraiser for Meals on Wheels, which faces extra costs this year because of aging vehicles.

The program also looks to have less revenue because of a lagging United Way campaign.

“I did not think there were that many,” Hannah Lackey, a Hartselle High senior, said of the 385 Meals clients, many of whom rely on the program for their only meal of the day.

“It makes me feel very blessed.”

The group felt their preconceptions of the clients being feeble or hampered physically were mostly accurate.

“If they came to the door, it took them a really long time,” DeVoe said.

Added Matt Millwood, “I had one lady in a wheelchair who only had one leg, and a broken arm. She asked me for a dollar so she could buy some medicine.”

The group members discussed the ways they had grown over the eight weeks, and mentioned things like trusting others, respecting the ideas of others and having confidence to share their own ideas.

Some also said they wouldn’t fear the unknown as much, recalling how they initially were apprehensive about meeting the clients but forgot their uneasiness after the first delivery.

“I don’t really know why I was apprehensive,” DeVoe said. “I just was. I guess because you never know what to expect.

“But after I delivered, they were like so thankful,” she said. “It made me feel real good. I’d come back and do it again. Maybe get some of my friends to do it with me.”

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.

Meals on Wheels contributions

These are the contributions Meals on Wheels has received through Feb. 23.

To contribute, send donations to Meals on Wheels, c/o The Decatur Daily, P.O. Box 2213, Decatur, AL 35609-2213.

  • Forrest Chapel United Methodist Church — Hope SSC: $25.

  • Shellie and Lendon Haggard: $25.

  • Roxanne Beggs — in memory of Wesley Chmielewski: $30.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Robert Harris: $50.

  • Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Wahl: $50.

  • R. A. Chandler: $50.

  • Barbara Pruett — in memory of F. O. Pruett: $50.

  • Donna and Buford Pressnell: $50.

  • Ray Metzger: $50.

  • Adrian and John Turney: $100.

  • Richards SSC: $100.

  • Marjorie and Thomas Patterson: $100.

  • Carolyn and Barry Halford: $100.

  • Larry Parr: $100.

  • Cedar Plains CWS: $100.

  • Morgan County Fair: $1,000.

  • Anonymous contributions today: $450.

    Total contributions today: $2,430.

    Total contributions to date: $39,136.17.

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