Meals on Wheels keep rollin’ with $25,000 grant

A South Whidbey-based non-profit group that provides hot meals to senior citizens around Island County will have a little extra gas money this year, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation.

Senior Services of Island County was awarded the money in late December through the mega-store’s Washington State Giving Program, which gave a total of $750,000 in 2012, according to an announcement earlier this month.

Of that, $375,000 went to nine non-profit organizations that work to address a variety of basic needs, including hunger relief and job training through innovative programming.

“In addition to the thousands of associate volunteer hours and the in-kind donations throughout the year, we are very pleased to grant funds to these wonderful community organizations in Washington state,” said Madeleine Havener, senior director and regional general manager for Washington and Oregon at Walmart. “Their programs provide vital support for those in need, and we’re very proud to support their continued success and to help people live better.”

Senior Services, the largest non-profit organization serving older adults on Whidbey or Camano islands, will use the money for its Meals on Wheels program, which assists more than 300 people a year.

The program uses a small army of about 90 volunteers to deliver a hot meal to the elderly at their homes, three days a week. Recipients have the option of getting frozen meals as well.

Not only does the program help make life a little easier for senior citizens, allowing them to stay in their homes longer, but it’s also an opportunity for some to check in with them and see how they are doing.

“Sometimes these are the only people these seniors see all week,” said Cheryn Weisner, executive director for Senior Services.

Over the past few years, need has risen while revenue sources have dwindled, Weisner said. Often, grants received are between $2,000 to $10,000, which makes Walmart’s gift “significant,” she said.

Nutrition Program Director Debra Metz confirmed that the grant amounts to about 10 percent of Meals on Wheels’s total budget. Most of the money will be spent on food but some will go toward mileage reimbursement for volunteers, she said.

She said she is continually impressed with the community’s willingness to help those in need and the Walmart Foundation is no exception. It awarded the non-profit group $5,000 about five years ago, she said.

“They’ve done a lot to help our community and we are very grateful,” Metz said.

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