By Cara Pattison
Yukon Mobile Meals recipients on the Monday senior center lunch route received a special treat this summer that warmed their hearts and stomachs after a group of intermediate and middle schoolers from the Yukon Community Education Summer Camp delivered their meals.
The Mobile Meals organization provides year-round service to persons residing within the city limits of Yukon who are aged, homebound, handicapped, or convalescing, and are unable to prepare a meal themselves.
For the last two summers, the sixth through eighth graders enrolled in the YCE Camp Next class having been volunteering to help deliver those meals each Monday for eight weeks.
“I was contacted in the spring by YCE Camp Director Aimee McElhaney, so she plans this early on,” said Mobile Meals Program Director Joanne Oltmanns. “The camp starts helping deliver meals beginning in week one to our senior housing centers. This year, they took the Monday lunch route and distributed meals for us. We just had a delivery person leave that route, so it was just a real blessing to have the help that day.”
Every Monday, a bus driver with kids in tow pulled up to the Mobile Meals kitchen, a leader loaded the meals on the bus, and then off they drove off to the senior center.
In groups of two or three, the kids knocked on doors and handed the meals to the seniors.
“It’s been a real blessing. We always count on the summer help because our regular volunteers take vacations,” Oltmanns said. “We had to add another route this summer, so I can’t say enough about how great it was that they stepped-in to help.”
The young adults helped deliver meals to five Autumn Ridge residents, six Nina Willingham Senior Housing residents and 18 individuals at The Residence at Yukon Hills. Kids were able to go to the doors and visit with the older people.
“The older people got a kick out of seeing the school bus pull up in their complex,” Oltmanns said. “They just really enjoyed seeing the younger ones. We don’t get that a lot because the majority of the kids are in school during the school year.
I hear heartwarming stories about the kids helping the seniors do an odd job after the fact, like take out their trash or load their dishwasher.
“It’s good for the kids to learn to give back to the community. The older people’s faces light up when they see children. For some of them, the smile and greeting mean more than the meal – and when it’s young people, it is an extra blessing. It was great that they helped, and we are going to miss them now that the summer is over.”
Oltmanns and her crew treated the kids to cookies and ice cream on their last day of volunteering to show their gratitude.
Yukon Mobile Meals is now seeking delivery drivers to fill the vacancies left by the young campers. There are three openings for drivers on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Anyone interested in volunteering to deliver meals for Mobile Meals should call Oltmanns at (405) 354-5901.