COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — For many, volunteering on Thanksgiving is a tradition and it’s something LifeCare Alliance relies on each year to operate its Meals on Wheels program during the holidays.
NBC4 spent the morning with Amy and Jim Guilkey. This is something that they’ve done the last several years.
They say they’ve made connections that make them appreciate the spirit of the holiday even more.
This Thanksgiving morning, the pair loaded their trunk with meals, pumpkin pie — all of the fixings.
“We knew we could make those commitments during the year and on those days and it’s just been something that’s become a tradition and we can’t give it up because it feels like we’re really giving back,” said Amy.
They say it is the clients that make this day special. They’ve met people over the years that have touched their hearts.
Jim spoke about a special memory of a client who played the organ. “He used to be a performer in New York City, and he did a little ditty thing for us, it was unbelievable.”
Amy added, “He was probably 90 years old — 80s, 90s, and it was so sweet, and it was an amazing connection we weren’t expecting.”
Chuck Gehring, the President and CEO of LifeCare Alliance, says demand for services is at an all-time high.
He says their client list is 70 percent above pre-covid levels.
“We’re averaging between 20 and 50 new clients a week still that are being identified because of the pandemic and they’re still not able to go out all the time.”
Elisha martin is one of the clients that benefits from the program.
“I appreciate it very much, it’s a really big help.”
She says she can’t get around easily and it makes her day to see volunteers — especially on the holidays.
“I still have my poinsettia that they brought me last year from Christmas. They brought me a poinsettia on Christmas Day and I’ve been taking care of it, I still have it,” Martin said.
That’s what keeps the Guilkey’s coming back each and every holiday.
“That’s probably the biggest lift you get wouldn’t you think?” he said to Amy.
She responded saying, “Absolutely. I’m not gonna lie, I come away in tears probably every time. We’ve met some of the most unique, wonderful, interesting people.”
LifeCare Alliance says they’re thankful that so many people were able to help out this Thanksgiving, but there is an even greater need this weekend and beyond.
“Friday, Saturday, Sunday this weekend and into next week, and then also throughout the holiday season, especially the week between Christmas Day and New Years, it just gets tough,” explained Gehring.
Gehring says they need an additional 30 to 40 volunteers for this weekend alone.
They have 190 routes and cover Franklin County along with Marion, Madison, Logan and Champaigne counties.
He says they’ll train people this Black Friday if they’re willing to help out.
“If they wanna deliver this weekend they can call or go to the website, and somebody will get back to them. It will be tomorrow but then they can get out this weekend and get moving.
You can sign up to volunteer on the LifeCare Alliance website and click the volunteer tab for more information. You can also call 614-444-MEAL (6325) to sign up as well.