CORRECTION: Due to a source error, The Daily Tar Heel mischaracterized the nature of the funding for Meals on Wheels. The organization receives no funding from the state or federal governments. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Six local elected officials stepped out of their offices and into the communities they represent this week to help homebound residents.
As a part of Meals on Wheels’ Community Champions Week , Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt , Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange) and several Carrboro Aldermen and Orange County Commissioners are helping volunteers deliver meals to those who have trouble leaving their home.
Community Champions Week is part of a national campaign to raise awareness for senior hunger and encourage the local community to take action.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro division of Meals on Wheels has provided personally-delivered meals to homebound and disabled individuals in the area for more than 40 years.
“We think of Chapel Hill as affluent and well-educated, but there is still a lot of need here,” said the division's Executive Director Stacey Yusko.
She said the elected official volunteers got into cars with complete strangers who drove them through a delivery route, then accompanied them to meet the recipients.
“It’s impressive that the officials made time in their busy schedules to do this,” Yusko said. “They were positive and personable so the exercise was very easy for us.”
Kleinschmidt said he was happy to check up on people who would not have human contact otherwise.
"It really calls into question the myth about what Chapel Hill is," he said. "They think we are wealthy and elite and all of these horrible adjectives, but we are also people with great hearts for others in need."
Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils said participating in the program is an important way to publicize what the organization is doing and see the town through a different lens.
"We saw a lot of people we represent who are usually homebound,” he said.
Commissioner Penny Rich said serving with Meals on Wheels is something close to her heart.
“I’ve known about this forever and I have often chipped in and donated,” she said. “I want to make sure people never go hungry, and make sure that people who wouldn’t usually have a nice meal get one.”
Insko said she has been a part of Community Champions Week once before.
“I was in parts of my district that I haven’t seen in years,” she said. “It’s a magnificent program. It is completely run by volunteers, and this is a way of showing that I appreciate their work.
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