Volunteers bring Christmas meals to seniors - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Volunteers bring Christmas meals to seniors

Toni Fegers Toni Fegers
Russell Chun Russell Chun
Irene Park Irene Park
Glenn Park Glenn Park
One of the seniors that receive food from Meals on Wheels One of the seniors that receive food from Meals on Wheels

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the 18th year in a row, hundreds of volunteers gave up a few hours of their holiday to deliver hot meals, gifts and Christmas cheer to homebound senior citizens around Oahu as part of the Lanakila Meals on Wheels program.

"This is a special day today because we're serving about 775 seniors," said Meals on Wheels Director Toni Fegers at the headquarters.

"We get up early, 5:30, come out here and do this. And it only takes a few hours," volunteer Russell Chun said, as hundreds of meals were prepared in the program's kitchen.

It also took a lot of wheels to deliver all those meals. An army of volunteers in Lanakila Pacific's Bachelot Street parking lot directed other volunteer drivers, who stopped to pick up the meals that they would deliver.

In all, some 200 volunteers are involved in the effort. Glenn and Irene Park were two of the volunteers, assigned to deliver meals to the Kapahulu area.

"It's a full meal, chicken, rice, a hot vegetable, a roll and dessert," Irene Park told Hawaii News Now photographer Duncan Armstrong, as she and her husband sorted and packed the meals in the trunk of their car.

At one house, the knock on the door didn't get an immediate response. The Parks were unfazed. "Sometimes they don't hear the door, or they don't hear the phone," Irene Park said. "So we try and call them a couple of times to make sure we don't miss them."

Meanwhile, Glenn Park was on his cell phone, talking to the senior in the house. "We're Meals on Wheels," Glenn said, the woman's responses audible through the door of the house. "Yes, I'll knock, just to let you know that we're here."

They knock again, and finally the door opens.

For some of these seniors, Glenn and Irene may be the only Christmas visitors they'll see. So the couple says they bring more than just a hot meal. "Sometimes we stay and chat for a couple of minutes," Irene said. "They'll tell you stories about how Christmas used to be like when they were growing up."

At their next stop, it's a while once again before someone responds to their knock on the door. But once the door opens, there's a senior, a man named George, grateful for the visit and the meal.

"What we do is really something small," Irene said, as she and her husband drove down Montserrat Avenue to their next stop. "But the families are always so grateful, and they're so nice."

So why do the Parks and so many others spent Christmas morning this way?

"We never think about the 'whys,'" said Glenn. "It's just something to do."

"Its Christmas for them," said Irene, "but it's Christmas for me and my husband. In a way, we get more back from them than we put in."

Although there's a lot of attention given to the program during the holidays, Lanakila Meals on Wheels goes year-round and also offers group dining at 18 Kupuna Wellness Centers around Oahu. Last year, it provided nearly 250,000 meals to Oahu seniors.


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