On Nov. 1, West Library staff and students assembled the annual Meals On Wheels Christmas Tree in an effort to raise gift donations for local elderly and disabled residents.
Anyone wishing to donate may do so until Dec. 9 at the West Library circulation desk, said Sheri Parker, coordinator of library services.
“Take a star from the tree, buy a gift and return it unwrapped,” Parker said. “We take care of the wrapping and delivering to the Meals On Wheels office. We are collecting a variety of items.”
Meals On Wheels is a not-for-profit organization that has been serving the DFW community for over four decades. And for the last 11 years, Texas Wesleyan has joined the effort to service the Poly community during the holidays.
“There are a lot of elderly and disabled residents in the Poly area, surrounding the university, who receive Meals On Wheels food every week day,” Parker said. “Many of them do not have family and won’t be receiving anything for Christmas.”
In addition to meeting the needs of human clients, Meals On Wheels acknowledges clients’ furry companions.
“Meals On Wheels has discovered that clients with pets will share their meals if they don’t have enough money to buy pet food,” Parker said.
Thus, donations may also include pet food. “We also collect cash gifts for those who prefer to support the daily meal distributions,” Parker said. “The regular volunteers distribute the gifts to their routes the week of Dec. 15.”
However, Meals On Wheels Inc. is not exclusive to the Poly area. The organization serves clients throughout Tarrant County.
“[We] deliver meals daily to the home-bound who are the most isolated population in our county,” said Nedra Cutler, vice president of volunteer services.
But community contributions make it possible for the organization to make the holidays extraordinary for their clients.
“We do not have any budgeted amount of money to provide holiday gifts to our meal recipients,” Cutler said. “We depend on community donations for special items.”
Still, last year Meals On Wheels provided daily services to more than 4,500 people. And the need to provide for these residents of Tarrant County extends beyond the holiday season.
“During the holiday season, there is a great need for enough gifts for our home-based clients,” Cutler said. “Many times the [donated] gift may be their only gift. They are always very thankful and thrilled that someone thought of them during the holiday season.
“[However] we do accept designated gifts throughout the year for special needs for our clients. The client services programs are dependent on community donations 100 percent for the distribution of pet food, food pantry [items], fans and air conditioners, plus home repairs.”
And for those who are a bit short on cash, Cutler said time is just as valuable.
“Volunteers are always needed for on-going meal delivery or special volunteer needs that are on-call or as needed,” Cutler said.
“Special thanks to the Wesleyan family that thinks of others and provides gifts to the home-bound during the busy holiday season,” she said.
In addition to the Wheels On Wheels Christmas Tree, the Wesleyan community has the opportunity to enter a contest in which proceeds are also donated to Meals On Wheels.
“Last year we started the Christmas Tree Decorating Contest, which also benefits Meals On Wheels,” Parker said. “[Contestants] must decorate the tree in one of the three designated themes: red, white and/or green; blue and gold; metallic – silver, gold and copper; and bring [it] back to the library by Nov. 18.
Library staff will announce winners on Dec. 3.
“Gift cards will be awarded to first and second place winners in each category and one prize for the tree which sells for the highest amount,” Parker said. “After the winners are announced, contestants may pick up their trees or donate them to be auctioned off, with proceeds going to Meals On Wheels. The silent auction will run from Dec. 3 – Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.”
Visit www.mealsonwheels.org for additional information about Meals On Wheels programs or to make a donation.