If the Meals on Wheels program had more volunteers, it could feed more residents who can't cook for themselves, program manager Stacie Smith said.
Nearly 700 senior citizens are on the Meals on Wheels waiting list in the Southeast Tennessee Development District's 10-county area, including 438 in Hamilton County.
Hamilton County has 53 volunteers delivering food to 225 seniors but some volunteers only come once a month. Any time a volunteer can give is appreciated, but at least another 50 volunteers are needed to allow all meals to be delivered to seniors within two hours so the hot food doesn't become cold, Smith said.
If the district had more volunteer drivers and could pay less for food deliveries, more money could be spent on actual meals, Smith said.
On Friday local Girl Scouts, troop leaders and Girl Scout staff came to the rescue.
"Girls Scouts are usually there to help when help is needed," said Laura Skonberg, marketing coordinator for the Girl Scout Council for the Southern Appalachians.
For the Girl Scouts, it was a one-day effort, a service project they do once a year in honor of National Cookie Day on Friday.
It's a time for Girl Scouts to assist community service workers while giving out free treats to market their famous cookies. Cookie-selling season starts at the end of this month, said troop leader Lisa Fox.
But for Smith, it meant a day of extra volunteers coming aboard to visit shut-in seniors and deliver hot meals.
Christin McWhorter, family caregiver support program coordinator, said she hopes more people follow the Scouts' example and volunteer.
"You provide social interaction, which is invaluable to people who are home-bound and isolated," she said "It's much more than a meal."
Green and white balloons waved through the air as meal deliverer David Crutcher led a caravan of Girl Scout volunteers and supporters around homes in East Ridge and the Rossville Boulevard area.
Out of the van popped Hannah Laughner, 9; Lior Aedo, 10; and Tori Miller, 9, to bring meals and cookies to octogenarians Bennie and Violet Dickerson.
Bennie Dickerson was so happy to see the girls he put his arm around all of them and had his picture taken with them. Violet, who trembles with Parkinson's disease and struggles to walk, used her cane to get to the front of the home to meet and greet the girls.
The girls talked about how they enjoyed helping the seniors after getting back to their van.
"It's fun to see them be happy," said Lior.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 423-757-6431.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...