The community is invited to join the fight against hunger for the elderly during the Waterford Township Senior Center’s 21st annual Walk & Roll for Meals on Saturday, Sept. 22.
The event begins at 10 a.m. at the Waterford Senior Center, located at 3621 Pontiac Lake Road. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The cost to participate is $10 per person; children 12-years-old and under can participate free of charge.
A complementary lunch and T-shirt is included in the registration fee. Pledge sheets are available for pick-up at the Senior Center, or call 248-682-9450 and one can be e-mailed.
All proceeds directly benefit the Meals on Wheels Program.
The 3-mile stretch can be be walked or ridden, escorted by Waterford Township police. Those who can’t make the trip can be driven by a Senior Center van.
There will also be a bouncy house and games for children, along with prizes donated by local businesses for multiple pledges.
The Waterford Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels Program currently delivers over 1,200 meals per week to homebound seniors in the Waterford Township and Waterford School District areas. These meals allow elderly residents who are unable to shop or cook for themselves to receive the food they need.
“We serve over 60,000 meals a year to homebound seniors,” said Senior Center Program and Nutrition Director Maureen Margraf. “Many are living at or below poverty level and can’t afford to donate to the program.”
The Senior Center gets funding from the Area Agency on Aging 1B via an annual grant to subsidize the Meals on Wheels Program. However, there have been cutbacks to the program and grant dollars cover only about half of all expenses incurred.
Last year the event raised $25,000, but right now the response has been less than in 2011.
“This year even with sponsors, it’s down,” Margraf said. “We’re falling short this year.
“Donations from seniors are also down because they have to choose between medications, eating, or having heat in their homes,” Margraf added. “For many of them, the (Meals on Wheels) drivers are the only people who see them. They can go months without seeing anybody.”
The volunteer drivers not only drop off meals, but help the seniors with things like retrieving their mail or helping with chores.
“The drivers help with some things that need to be done and visit for a few minutes, which means the world to (the seniors),” Margraf said.
Staff visits homebound seniors about twice a year on average. Margraf said that in many cases these seniors eat only once a day and even then, may share their meal with a pet, who is sometimes their only companion. Therefore, the program is being expanded to serve this portion of the population with one cold meal a day also.
“That way then can at least eat twice a day,” Margraf said.
The event is just one way to support a good cause, according to Margraf.
“Homebound seniors are in failing health and get to a place where they feel forgotten, so this is one way for the community to come together and make them feel important.”