By ED FRANKS
On Thursday, Christmas Eve, The Beacon of H.O.P.E. Meals on Wheels program delivered more than 150 meals to elderly, ill and disabled residents on Pine Island.
Volunteers prepare meals for islanders at the Beacon of H.O.P.E. The meals were delivered Christmas Eve.
"The original idea came from Dick Maher," BOH Director Betsy Haeselmeyer said. "Dick suggested this about 3 years ago. It came to him that somewhere along the line, like many of us do, Dick realized that the real meaning of Christmas was lost. He came to the Beacon to ask if there were families on the island that were hungry. And that's how this came about."
The process for the Christmas Eve deliveries begins immediately after Thanksgiving with the accumulation of names of families in need.
About 25 volunteers arrived at the Pine island United Methodist Church Thursday morning to prepare the meals for delivery. Turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy and cake were each individually wrapped.
"Some of our volunteers this year were with us last year," coordinator Dianne Higgins said. "This is such a rewarding thing for people that they often come back."
Mark Marzella, Fire Chief Joe Marzella's brother, came last year and found it "such a rewarding experience" he returned this year with his son Shawn and friend Jasmine.
"My parents came here many years ago and were very involved with the Catholic Church," Marzella said. "My dad always maintained the property around the church. I know when we leave here today we will feel good about ourselves and it's like you do yourself a favor by helping others."
George Miller also works with the Beacon.
"I was here last year and it gives you a great feeling. I think what Bob Dylan said is true, 'May you always do for others, and let others do for you' is very true'."
After packaging, the food was loaded into three vehicles and delivered to Pine Island families.
The Beacon of H.O.P.E. delivers meals throughout the year and is currently looking for volunteer drivers. Candidates must have a valid drivers license and pass a background check.
Contact the Beacon of H.O.P.E. for additional details: 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, Bokeelia, FL,33922 or call 239-283-5123.