For some, the holidays can be the lonliest part of the year, especially if you have no one to share it with. Senior citizens particularly can relate to this. It may be because of the loss of loved ones or they themselves may be ill or even bedridden.
One organization that works to combat the sense of loneliness and isolation some seniors feel at the holidays and all throughout the year is Meals on Wheels. About five or six years ago, seniors citizens who were receiving Meals on Wheels in the Millersville area, started not only receiving a warm meal but a warm welcome as well.
Penn Manor Assistant Superintendent, Ellen Pollock, began taking sixth graders with her every Friday as she personally volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program.
Pollock, Lisa Roth-Walter (Hambright Elementary School Teacher) , Beth Wagner (Hambright Elementary School Teacher), and Bill Southward (Hambright Elementary School Teacher) are the ones who thought up and have been putting in motion this plan, but are also the structure beneath the smiles of every senior who receives a meal every Friday from a different group of three 6th graders.
Fridays in December and January are especially important because of the holidays and Pollock was mindful of this when she picked up her young volunteers.
“You’re job is to be really cheerful!” Pollock told three 6th graders Zedan Rahwan, Daniel Wolf, and Wynn Kanagy.
“It’s a blessing to have this service,” said Pauline Webb, a Meals on Wheels beneficiary “I think the children are wonderful.”
It’s clear the sixth graders are benefiting from the experience, too.
“I thought it would feel good to help someone out.” said Wolf.
“I always enjoy helping people in need.” said Kanagy.
“I thought it be cool to help out too.” said Rashwan.
The first stop after picking up the Hambright helpers, was the First United Methodist Church in Millersville. From there, the students and Ms. Pollock picked up the meals and set off for the first food recipient. On average there are about 10-11 homes on the Meals
on Wheels route that
receive a hot and cold meal. The kids took turns navigating and getting the meals out for the next stop.
“I love it!” exclaimed Helen Young a Meals on Wheels beneficiary also.
Ever since the first year of the program, sixth graders have come back with such stories as the “Pencil Lady” (also known as Ms. Helen Young) and the “din-dong-ditch house”(where Agnes Perry resides) have been passed down from previous helpers to current or soon-to-be helpers.
(Daniel Wolf, Helen Young, Wynn Kanagy, and Zedan Rashwan)
“My favorite part was the ding dong ditch house.” said Wolf
“My favorite part was the Pencil lady,” said Kanagy
“The Pencil Lady was my favorite too.” said Rashwan.
As the helpers returned to Hambright after their last delivery and dropping off boxes at the church, they looked back and reflected on what they learned.
“I learned it’s good to be helpful, especially because I’ll want people to help me when I’m older.” said Wolf.
“ I learned how good of an experience this is,” said Rashwan “I like helping people in need.”
“I learned a lesson about helping others when they’re in need.” said Kanagy.
“If I could give the kids one thing it’s the thought that they can make a difference.” said Pollock.
To see a personal account from those involved on what happened during their experience, go to blogs.pennmanor.net/mealsonwheels. Ms. Pollock who is now on the Meals on Wheels board says hopefully this program between the elementary school and Meals on Wheels will go on forever. And judging by the enthusiastic look on both the faces of the sixth graders and the seniors, it will be going on forever.
By: Robert Henry