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Program hungry for help
Meals on Wheels seeks volunteers, donations
Meals on Wheels 2 es
Sonya Camarillo prepares hot meals to be packaged for the Meals on Wheels program on Thursday morning at the Forsyth County Senior Center. - photo by Emily Saunders

* To donate time or money tp the Forsyth County Meals on Wheels program, call (770) 781-2178.

* For a list of other organizations seeking holiday help, go online at Click on Local, then "Help others this holiday season."

*Help others this holiday season, check our listings.

For nearly 14 years, Lyle Schroeder has spent his Friday mornings traveling throughout Forsyth County.

Most of the driving is stop and go, and it’s the stopping that makes the trips for the Meals on Wheels volunteer.

“I’ve made some pretty good friends through the years,” Schroeder said. “It’s just something I’ve enjoyed doing.”

On any given Friday, Schroeder and other volunteers can visit as many as 14 homes to deliver a hot meal for senior citizens unable to prepare their own.

Through community volunteers, each meal costs $3.39. But in a down economy, the program needs more help for more people, said Shelly Johnson, Forsyth County Senior Center director.

To help get donations up, Johnson said she started asking for financial assistance a month ahead of time.

“We’re just not seeing donations from a lot of the same individuals that we did last year,” she said. “We don’t know if it’s because their circumstances have changed or if they’ve forgotten we could use their donation, or if they’re still waiting.

“But anything anyone can help us with will be greatly appreciated.”

About 160 seniors receive a hot meal daily. Delivery volunteers are picked from a pool of nearly 250, including regulars like Schroeder and others who are new to the program.

Barbara Murray has been delivering meals for just a few months, but already her Wednesday morning route has become a big part of her life.

“I really feel like I’m giving back to the community,” she said. “But I’ve enjoyed it very much and I’ve met a lot of nice people.

“There is one lady, I love her dearly, and she’s a really special lady. I’d really do anything for her if she needed me.”

She said the seniors along her route seem grateful for the food and fellowship.

And as a senior herself, Murray said it makes her appreciate her good health.

During his time delivering meals, Schroeder has also had his share of sad days, he said.

“Unfortunately, because of their age and some of their health conditions, you may only know them for a couple of years and then they’re gone,” he said. “I’ve attended quite a few funerals and it’s always sad.

“But there are a lot of very nice people ... and it’s something I really enjoy doing."

Johnson said there is always a need for drivers. And especially around the holidays, there is a greater need for money.

Gift certificates can be purchased through the senior center to pay for a day, week, month or year of daily hot meals for $3.39, $16.95, $74.58 and $894.96, respectively. Until New Year’s Day, gift certificates will be sent along with hot meals so donors can leave a special message for the seniors.

The seniors themselves will sometimes try to help out, Johnson said.

“Sometimes we’ll get nickels and dimes back in an envelope with a note saying that’s all they can afford to send, but that they really appreciate the kindness,” she said.

It’s moments like that and in face-to-face meetings, Johnson said, when it is "very rewarding to know what you did during that time of your day mattered.”