Local volunteer shares Meals on Wheels story

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SOUTH BEND Orville Perkins has been volunteering with Real Services for five years. He started giving back to get out of the house and stay active after his wife passed away. Since then, he says his bond with the organization and those he donates to has only grown.

"Oh yes, I love it," said Perkins. "I'm proud of every one of them. I greet every one of them as much as I can. I've got about three of them that give me a hug every time I go in there."

It is volunteers like Perkins who make the Meals on Wheels mission possible, but during a tough winter and economy, getting people to give back can be difficult. Plus, a lack of government funding meant the program had to start a waiting list for the first time in March.

"The need for the program stays the same, it is a constant thing," said George Hawthorne, the Nutrition and Transportation Director for Real Services. "We have phone calls every single day of people looking to be added on to Meals on Wheels."

Since they started the list nearly a month ago, Real Services says the waiting list has grown slightly. Thankfully, so have the donations.

Hawthorne said, they were nearly $100,000 in debt before the list. Now, it's a different story.

"The community has responded," said Hawthorne. "We've been able to pick up about $50,000 so far. It's a beautiful thing as far as the money that's come in from the community."

The need is still great. Hawthorne and others hope warm weather brings on more volunteers.

"In good weather and in summer, you'll have a good chunk of people who will come right toward the end of the school year, right about now," said Hawthorne.

For more information about its services or to volunteer with Meals on Wheels, click here.

In May, the community has another way to give back. Real Services will once again offer its Room Makeover Raffle. Tickets are $50 to be entered into the drawing for a $25,000 room makeover. Tickets go on sale May 1.

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