VNA Texas

VNA Texas Meals on Wheels needs drivers for Thanksgiving—start a new family tradition

by Allison Hatfield | November 13, 2019

At 4:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning, the kitchen staff at VNA Haggerty Center will begin chopping hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables and preparing more than 750 pounds of turkey for more than 4,500 Thanksgiving meals for homebound seniors and disabled adults. They’ll cook 800 pounds of cornbread dressing, hundreds of gallons of hot gravy and green beans, thousands of rolls, and enough ambrosia salad to make Zeus a happy man. And they need your help making deliveries.

The kitchen is the country’s largest single-site provider of meals to homebound seniors. Food is delivered by staff and volunteers of VNA Texas’ Meals on Wheels program, now in its 47th year. “We are always looking for folks,” says Jennifer Atwood, managing director of development and communications for VNA, adding that the nonprofit has two immediate shortage ssues that you can help resolve.

“On Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and MLK Day, we aim to have 100 percent of routes delivered by volunteers,” Atwood says. Every other day of the year, VNA has a 50-50 mix of volunteers and paid drivers, but on those holidays organizers want a higher engagement from the community, and that means 1,200 volunteers. “It’s a wonderful way to spend some time with your family and deliver a lot of joy on a holiday,” she says.

Thanksgiving Day deliveries commence at 9:30 a.m.; volunteers pick up meals—and bags of fresh fruit—at the Community Partners of Dallas parking lot off Mockingbird Lane between 8:45 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. Then they head off to share food and friendship before enjoying their own traditions.

In addition, Atwood says, VNA has a chronic need in Irving. “We have a shortage of 10 volunteers per day,” she says. “So if you live or work in Irving and want to deliver joy on your lunch hour, we need you!”

When you volunteer with VNA Meals on Wheels, you do more than ensure someone has something nutritious to eat. Through a mobile app created in partnership with Toyota and launched earlier this year, volunteers not only sign up to deliver meals, manage their schedules, and view their routes, they also report on the safety and wellness of the people to whom they deliver. “What is so key is,” Atwood says, “is that volunteers can give us immediate feedback on any concerns that need to be addressed—whether the house needs attention, the person is sick, the person is at the hospital. So not only do we know when a meal has been delivered, there is a real-time lifeline between VNA and the people in the program.”

VNA Texas Meals on Wheels volunteers must fill out an application, pass a background check, and complete an online training course. Get started at volunteer.vnatexas.org. You can also visit the FWD>DFW VOMO platform for a full list of volunteer opportunities with Meals on Wheels Collin County. If you’re interested in participating on Thanksgiving, sign up now—a background check takes about a week and you need to indicate your intent here. For questions, email volunteer@vnatexas.org.

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