Last Thursday, Margaret Popko opened her front door to receive her lunch. But it wasn’t a normal delivery, just like Margaret isn’t a normal Meals On Wheels recipient.
Jimmy Carter was president, Laverne & Shirley was the most watched television show and Star Wars was the nation’s biggest film when Margaret first volunteered for the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania.
She spent 36 years in a small church kitchen in Clairton, about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh. Like all of our volunteers, Margaret wanted to lend a hand to people in the community who aren’t able to grocery shop or cook for themselves.
A few months ago, she was no longer able to make it into the kitchen on a regular basis. At age 95, she joined the nearly 1,000 individuals who receive a meal from us every day.
But there was a problem: our Meals On Wheels kitchen was short on wheels.
Individual volunteers had to use their own cars to transport food from the nearby food bank to our kitchens, and from our kitchen to hundreds of homes throughout the region. It limited how many people like Margaret we were able to serve.
We needed help. Se we applied for a grant through the Walmart Foundation. A few months later, as part of Walmart’s $2 billion commitment to end hunger in the United States, the Foundation awarded us a $65,000 grant to purchase a delivery vehicle.
We officially unveiled the new van on Thursday. Several Walmart associates helped in the kitchen earlier that day.
The decision of who should receive the inaugural meal was an easy one.
Store Manager Ed Protiva from the nearby Walmart greeted Margaret at her door. Our brand new van was parked on the street outside.
“That should make things easier!” Margaret said. “It looks good.”
From Clairton the van went on to deliver food for individuals in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Mercer counties.
A single meal may not seem like much, but each and every delivery we make is a connection, a conversation, and a helping hand that people depend on. Walmart’s dedication to our community makes a big difference to us, and makes it possible for use to serve more people like Margaret.
Patty Davidson is the Chief Development Officer of the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pa. To learn more about LSSWPA or to volunteer for the Meals On Wheels program, please visit http://www.lsswpa.org/.