TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Meals on Wheels serves thousands of people across East Texas every day. But what you may not know, is that it's a ministry first.
"It's a prayer every morning," said Mike Anderson.
It all starts at 4:30 a.m. sharp. That's when the cooks hit the kitchen and start preparing three thousand meals. Meals on Wheels feeds seniors across six East Texas counties. But what you should know, is this is a ministry first.
"When it was founded 41 years ago, it was founded by a group of local churches," said Mike Powell, CEO & President for Meals on Wheels.
And the idea is simple: feed someone who's hungry and nourish not just their body, but their spirit as well.
"Because those little seniors when you go into their homes to feed them, they just light up," said Volunteer Director Donna Anderson.
"So many of the people, you're the only person they see every day. It's not only the meal that they're getting, it's the visitation and having the opportunity to check on that person's safety and make sure that they're okay," said Powell.
One of those people is Shirley Henson. She's been a client for almost three years.
"It's a wonderful organization for older people. I never thought I'd have to do that but the time slips out on you before you know it," she said.
Speaking of time, that is what makes this ministry run. The number one need at Meals on Wheels isn't money, it's people.
"Volunteers save us about three-quarters of a million dollars a year and that allows us to take our money that we raise and direct it toward feeding more clients," Powell said.
"It's not an every day commitment. You can do it once a month, every day or whenever your schedule will allow you," said Anderson.
I know that firsthand. I've been a volunteer delivering meals on Route 14 for three years now.
I think the best part for me personally about Meals on Wheels is it's something small. A lot of times you can donate to a cause, but you don't really see what you've given in action. I think here, it's something so tangible."
"You're keeping them in their home, in their environment," Anderson said. "It's wonderful to help people. At the end of the day it makes me feel good when I go home because I've helped people."
And it's more than just meals. Volunteers deliver pet food for clients with animals, provide resources for home health care, even direct those in need to safe contractors for home repair. None of it would be possible without the power of prayer.
"The Lord really provides a lot for this ministry, the volunteers we have, the manpower to get all this done," Anderson said.
Each person, giving their time to minister to the people who need it most, like Ms. Shirley, who wants her volunteers to know this.
"Oh how much I love them, so much. They're such precious people. They're like my family when they come here. They stand and visit with me and talk. I just love them all." she said.
In the last 25 years, Meals on Wheels has served 15 million meals to sick and shut-in seniors in Gregg, Henderson, Smith, Upshur, Van Zandt and Wood counties.