Consider swapping the bag of fast food you’d normally grab at lunch to help ensure a senior neighbor has lunch.
That’s the notion behind the Wise County Committee on Aging’s Sack Senior Hunger fundraiser this week. Instead of eating out for lunch Thursday, the group encourages community members to bring their lunch from home and donate what would otherwise be spent dining out to a circulated paper sack.
“This may be $3, $5, $10 – any amount will help feed our children of yesterday,” said committee member Megan Adams.
Adams and other members of the Committee will collect the sacks in the days after, and the proceeds will help fund the various, imperative services the committee offers the senior community. Perhaps the largest of the ventures is the delivery of 25,000 meals a year through Meals on Wheels.
Nationally, 8.4 percent of elderly households are food insecure.
“This means they sometimes do not know where their next meal will come from,” Adams said.
The statistic is apparent on the local level, too. Donna Brown, executive director of the Committee, said most of the 90 or so clients who receive assistance from Meals on Wheels are at the poverty level or below.
Each meal costs $7.50, which makes mel delivery the organization’s largest expense once you factor in the four drivers, four cars and the associated gas, maintenance and upkeep.
But that’s not all the Committee on Aging offers. The group also logs about 700 trips in transportation services a year and helps community seniors with miscellaneous expenses ranging from dental work for a veteran, to replacing a septic system in the home of an 87-year-old woman, to prescriptions.
“We can’t afford to do a lot, but we do try to help in any way we can,” said Brown.
In all, the Committee operated on a $230,000 budget last year – of which $210,000 was public support in the form of donations and grants.
However, the entity faces an 8 percent cut in federal funds – which translates into close to $10,000 – in addition to dwindling donations from the community due to the economy, Brown presumes.
“We understand that all the non-profits are hurting, and everyone’s doing what they can to help,” Brown said. “But we have to help ourselves, too.”
So Brown and the rest of the Committee have brainstormed innovative ways to not only raise dollars but also awareness of the organization’s efforts.
“We’re going to try to do something every couple of months, but not just fundraisers,” Brown said. “We also want to put ourselves out there and let people know we’re here. For some seniors, it’s real hard to ask for help. Most don’t want to ask their kids – again because of the economy – and most want to be independent.
“But we want all of the seniors of Wise County to know we’re here to help as we can. Although we mainly do Meals on Wheels and transportation, we try to help in other ways.”
And committee members know the possibilities are more concrete based on successful campaigns such as Sack Senior Hunger.
“The Board of Directors is revamping in various ways,” Adams said. “We want to bring more services to the aging population that are offered by area Agencies on Aging in other counties. Because of this, we wanted to develop a fundraiser idea that is far-reaching in regards to publicity and in regards to raising actual dollars, like (Sack Senior Hunger).
“Simply make this information available to your co-workers by making an announcement or hanging this sheet in your office. Then, on Jan. 31, pass around the brown paper sack provided and ask everyone to donate the money they saved by bringing their lunch to work … ‘One of our board members will come pick up the donations by Feb. 1.
“We hope this is a jumpstart to a very successful year of fundraising.”
For a sack to pass around your workplace or any other information, call Adams at 940-626-0586 or the Committee on Aging at 940-627-5329.