By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published November 27, 2014
ATLANTA—If three years in a row makes a tradition, there is a new one at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta.
Parishioners have gotten in their cars and delivered hot meals to shut-ins on Thanksgiving as part of the Meals on Wheels program.
“The people are so happy and appreciative of it,” said Karen Burke, who has coordinated the effort and delivered meals.
Burke, who is a college biology professor, took up the cause after her grandmother in Virginia lived on her own after her husband died.
“Knowing someone did it for my grandmother, I wanted to do it for someone else,” she said.
Also, Burke takes seriously the biblical mandate to “demonstrate your faith by your works,” she said.
Last year, some 30 volunteers from the parish in Atlanta’s West End delivered meals. Burke said routes and deliveries start at around 9 a.m. and are finished by 11 a.m.
On Thanksgiving, some 200 homebound senior citizens receive a meal of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, greens, corn muffin and a drink, according to Meals on Wheels. About 150 volunteers make it work.
The meals are important, but so is the brief visit by volunteers, Burke said. Many live on their own, with no family nearby, so the volunteer may be the only contact with a person they’ll have for the day, she said. “They get so excited to see children,” she said.
The ministry reminds Burke to give thanks for what she has, from family nearby to her possessions.
“It is nice to be the light of someone’s day. There’s nothing uneasy about it. I don’t understand the hesitancy,” she said.
Burke said her goal is to harness the energy around the holiday and have parishioners deliver meals quarterly. People are hungry year round, not just around the holidays, she said.
If you’d like to volunteer with Meals on Wheels, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 404-351-6194.