Ashley Reddig is only 10 years old and a fifth grader at Great Bend’s Holy Family School. But, she is already understanding the importance of volunteerism and helping others.
Reddig recruited eight students along with their parents as teams to deliver Meals on Wheels meals Tuesday.
“I was doing an oration on hunger in America and said wait a minute, there’s Meals on Wheels,” the precocious Reddig said. Since she has been on MOW routes with her parents in the past, she picked it as the topic of her upcoming speech.
She is participating in a civic oration contest at Holy Family. The purpose of the competition is to make the kids more aware of problems in the community and how they can help, in this case hunger, she said.
But her coalition of volunteers also included students from other schools and other ages she and her mother recruited. Since they are all on spring break now, the timing was ideal.
As for the moms and dads, they took time away from work, but none of them seemed to mind.
These are important lessons to learn, Reddig said. “You can use them later in life.”
On Tuesday morning, the teams gathered in the back room of the Great Bend Senior Center, the staging area for MOW where delivery drivers pick up their meals each day. They were given a run-down of how the system works and the special needs of some meal recipients by Linn Hogg, director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program which oversees MOW.
Hogg said she loved the idea of her recruiting students and parents to run a Meals On Wheels route together. “This becomes a chance to have some of those conversations we need to have with our children. Conversations about poverty, illness, aging, kindness, manners, timeliness and community service are just a few of the topics that can come up while delivering a hot meal to someone.”
But, its about more than the food, Hogg said. “It is about making the personal contacts and making sure the person is doing OK.”
For many, this may be the only visit they have all day. This is a comfort to the individuals as well as the children of the individuals.
She also said the customers will be curious about the new delivery people, especially since they are children. She jokingly warned that they may want to strike up long conversations.
As for Reddig’s project, “Ashley shows such an enthusiasm for her community,” Hogg said. “At such a young age, she really gets what Meals On Wheels is all about.”
She said in the summer, MOW is always looking for substitute drivers for their regular delivery volunteers. “The summer is a perfect time for a parent and child to do something very worthwhile together. What a way to foster the practice of giving back to people in your own community.“
Meals on Wheels is a non-profit organization founded in 1972 to provide the well-balanced meals to those age 60 and over who are unable, due to age, physical, or mental condition or infirmity to shop, or prepare meals for themselves.
Meals are served five days a week in the city limits of Great Bend, Hoisington and Ellinwood. They are prepared by the Great Bend Senior Center.
Hogg said Meals On Wheels currently serves 96 clients. That’s an average, of around 1,425 meals that go out monthly.
The cost of a meal is $5.25 for those that do not meet the over 60 and housebound criteria. If those criteria are met, we ask for a suggested donated of $3.25 a meal.
For information, contact Hogg at 620-792-1614, or stop by the MOW office at 1025 Main, room D-114.