COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Thousands of people in central Ohio will have a hot meal this Christmas, thanks to LifeCare Alliance and dozens of volunteers.

Christmas is usually a slow day of deliveries for Meals on Wheels volunteers at LifeCare Alliance, but CEO Chuck Gehring said that changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Pre-covid, we would have a slower day because if you’re going to go to somebody’s house, it might be on Christmas day — or somebody might come to see you,” Gehring said. “But with Covid, and with this new rush from Omicron variant, you’re not going anywhere, generally. So we’re just—holidays have become full-bore.”

Gehring said while Meals on Wheels used to deliver roughly 1,000 meals on Christmas, this year, volunteers will distribute 5,000 after overcoming supply shortages and staffing issues because of the pandemic.

“We don’t always get the exact chicken we want, but everything gets made every day, and gets out– and there’s more than chicken, obviously,” Gehring chuckled. “Since this all started, we’ve gained about 1,200 new volunteers in our database.”

Those new volunteers do not include Lisa Jolley and her daughter.

“I have been doing meals on wheels for probably 12 years,” Jolley said. “Maybe longer.”

The mother-daughter duo volunteer year-round, but make it a point to deliver Christmas meals each year.

“People are very grateful,” Jolley said. “They always brighten your day when they greet you at the door, invite you in their home. And they have their own little stories. So I enjoy that.”

One person with a story was Carollyn Martin, whose husband was in the hospital battling a severe Covid-19 infection in 2020. After she brought him home to continue his recovery, Martin signed up for Meals on Wheels.

“It was so helpful during that time because I didn’t have a lot of time to fix a lot of nice warm meals, and they were so gracious,” Martin said. “I just appreciate their support, their volunteering—its such a good gift to give.”

Martin said she and her husband are considering volunteering with Meals on Wheels in the near future.’

“I don’t want to be preachy, but the Bible says it’s better to give than to receive, you know? We sow, we reap,” Martin said. “We saw how wonderful and what a need it was, that helped and supported us.”

Gehring said LifeCare Alliance is in serious need of volunteers for the week following Christmas, and into the new year.

“There’s a great need right now,” Gehring said. “We’re just desperately trying to get stuff out.”

To sign up to volunteer for LifeCare Alliance, visit lifecarealliance.org or call (614) 444-MEAL (6325).