HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Senior citizens who live alone and can't get around on their own received a special visit on Christmas Day. They enjoyed a hot and nutritious holiday meal, thanks to Lanakila Meals on Wheels and its 200 volunteers.
In the face of funding cuts, the program marked its 19th year making Christmas deliveries.
Like they would with any other special delivery, Santa's elves took great care in packing up boxes for Meals on Wheels. Destination -- all over Oahu to 800 homebound senior citizens.
"Christmas is probably one of the most special days," Lyn Moku, Lanakila Meals on Wheels director, said. "So many of our seniors are alone. They have no one else who is going to be visiting them."
On the menu -- bread rolls, baked ham, mashed potatoes, green peas and red velvet cake. Also prepped were gift bags containing puzzle books, pens and snacks, as well as greeting cards made by students.
"You drive down there and you put this stuff in your car and you go out and you greet these people," Len Carmen, volunteer, said. "When it's all over with, it just makes you warm and fuzzy all over."
Representatives from Rising Phoenix Jaycees, Hawaii Government Employees Association, Hawaii Air National Guard and Saint Louis School were among Lanakila's diverse group of volunteers.
"Okay, we're going to hit the Kalakaua first," Carmen said.
Carmen and Justin Galano have been part of this holiday tradition for three years now.
"If you're there promptly at your pickup time, it flows really well," Carmen said. "You're just in and out of there, and off to your first deliveries."
First stop -- an apartment complex near Waikiki. Galano, a medical assistant, says delivering the hot meals is a great way of giving back to the community.
"Hi, Meals on Wheels. Merry Christmas," Galano said as he knocked on a client's door.
Although funding was secured for 800 Christmas meals, Lanakila officials say more donations and volunteers are needed to ensure continued services throughout the year.
"We have a wait list," Moku said. "Now it's up to almost 155 people. Those are people that we're not able to serve because we don't have the funds for that."
"A little gift for you and your meal," Carmen said as a client opened his door.
Larry Bailey, 65, says he appreciates the visits.
"For a senior citizen, it means lunches that you have, nutrition and good people to talk to," Bailey said.
One client wasn't home, so Carmen brightened up another person's day.
"I hope you have a very Merry Christmas," Carmen said.
"Thank you very much. God bless you," the recipient replied.
"To see the joy on the older people, the disabled people, the not-so-fortunate people's faces just puts a smile on my face," Carmen said.