Lawmakers, sheriff among those joining Meals on Wheels volunteers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 22, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
Margaret Cooper’s face lit up when Betty Campbell and East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallett arrived at her home carrying prepared meals Wednesday.
As a Meals on Wheels of Rowan County volunteer, Campbell is a frequent visitor to Cooper’s Division Avenue home.
But Mallett, who was volunteering Wednesday as part of the nonprofit agency’s Mayors and Big Wheels for Meals Day, was a surprise.
“It’s nice,” said Cooper, who is a friend of Mallett’s.
It doesn’t matter who brings the meals though, Cooper appreciates them all the same.
Her husband, Clinton, got out of a nursing home last July. And since suffering a stroke in 2005, it’s harder to get daily tasks done.
“A lot of times I don’t feel like cooking so I’m glad to receive the meals,” she said.
Mallett was one of nine community leaders who volunteered during the Mayors and Big Wheels for Meals Day on Wednesday.
“One of my heart’s passions is the elderly and this is a great way to bring awareness to them because they are truly the greatest generation,” she said. “I want to make them feel appreciated, especially in this global world that we live in. … Technology has spread so much that they have probably lost some connections.”
Rita Sims, the executive director of Meals on Wheels Rowan, said the annual event is part of a month-long initiative called March for Meals. “The goal is to raise awareness for senior hunger and encourage local communities to take action,” she said.
During the week, Meals on Wheels volunteers drop off about 200 hot meals in Rowan County each day. Sims said the group delivered more than 40,000 meals during 2011 and projects a 5 percent increase this year.
“In this tough economy, the food and human contact we provide to seniors in this community is needed more than ever,” Sims said in a press release.
Mallett said as she visited homes Wednesday she didn’t just want to hand out meals, she wanted to fulfill the Meals on Wheels mission by also providing a “friendly visit.”
“There is nothing more important than the human touch, that human voice, that human contact,” she said. “If you lose that, I think you’ve lost everything.”
That’s why Mallett had a wide smile and a loving disposition wherever she stopped Wednesday.
Campbell said it’s the people that have kept her volunteering at Meals and Wheels for the past 15 years.
“I just enjoy meeting all the people,” she said. “It’s very rewarding.”
And she enjoyed having Mallett join her during her route Wednesday.
“I think it’s a wonderful experience for the (community leaders),” she said.
Spencer Mayor Jody Everhart said he’s always happy to give back to the community.
“I’ll do anything to see the joy in people’s faces,” he said. “We’re all a community, we’re all in it to help each other.”
Everhart said he views volunteering as part of his duty as a mayor.
“We’re leaders in the community so we need to be here for the non-profits as well as our citizens,” he said.
Rockwell Mayor Beau Taylor, China Grove Mayor Don Bringle, Salisbury Mayor Paul Woodson, Granite Quarry Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Feather, Rowan County Commissioner Jim Sides, Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten and Rep. Harry Warren (R-Rowan) also delivered meals Wednesday.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.