5 reasons you need to sign up to be a Meals on Wheels volunteer right now

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volunteering at Meals on Wheels in Birmingham
JeVante Shropshire + Pat Byington of Bham Now volunteering at Meals on Wheels (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Recently, a few of us from Bham Now met before work to find out what it’s like to be a Meals on Wheels volunteer, and we’re here to tell you, it’s a great way to spend a few hours doing good while having fun. Keep reading to find out why you should sign up and how to get involved.

1. Meals on Wheels serves just under 2 THOUSAND homebound seniors *daily* in Jefferson County

prepping meals at Meals on Wheels
Prepping food at Meals on Wheels. (Jacob Blankeship / Bham Now)

When Natalie Zoghby, Operations Coordinator at United Way Meals on Wheels told me that number, I couldn’t believe my ears. While these meals are intended for homebound seniors, it turns out the same ​nutrition is available for free to anyone over age 60 in Jefferson County at partnering senior centers.

Preparing and delivering that many meals takes a village. Want to get involved?

Sign up to be a kitchen volunteer or go through a background check and become a driver. Drivers pick up food at senior centers and deliver to seniors’ homes.

“We are 100% reliant on our volunteers. We are so thankful we have a very robust volunteer group that is so dedicated, wonderful and kind to our seniors. We would never be able to serve as many people as we do without them.

We are so thankful that, especially during COVID, the community really stepped up and helped. We try to make our volunteer opportunities something you can do on your lunch break or with a friend in the afternoon.”

Natalie Zoghby, Volunteer Coordinator, United Way Meals on Wheels

2. Being a Meals on Wheels volunteer is its own reward

Meals on Wheels volunteer
Volunteer Stacy Bledsoe is on the far right. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

When we were there, we met Stacy Bledsoe. She had taken a personal day and was spending four hours of it helping with Meals on Wheels. She’s been the United Way coordinator for the PADCO division at EBSCO for 6-7 years, and has really missed the hands-on involvement that she loves so much during the pandemic.

Even though her company would compensate her for volunteer hours, she said the enjoyment of volunteering is enough:

“I always have been the type of person that wants to help hands on. I grew up in a church where I used to to work in the kitchen or volunteer to help the elders. I’ve always had a passion for helping.”

Stacy Bledsoe, Volunteer, Meals on Wheels

3. You can always help stock the pantry as a Meals on Wheels volunteer

Meals on Wheels food pantry
Anyone is welcome to donate food to the Meals on Wheels food pantry. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Two people at a time can work in the pantry. You’re welcome to purchase food from this Amazon wish list and bring it with you.

4. Groups can volunteer, too

meals on wheels behind the scenes
Packaging up meals. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

United Way Meals on Wheels can support corporate volunteering and team building. Groups can work together to assemble pantry bags, senior gift bags for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas.

Offices can also organize a drive where people purchase items from an Amazon wishlist (see links above) and have everything shipped directly to United Way Meals on Wheels.

5. Businesses can also donate much-needed items

Get involved in Meals on Wheels
There are so many ways you can get involved with Meals on Wheels.

In addition to all the other ways to get involved, one creative way some businesses support Meals on Wheels is by organizing a drive to purchase commonly-needed household items, such as air conditioners or microwaves.

Ready to volunteer with United Way Meals on Wheels? Sign up today.

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Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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