The Meals on Wheels program at the Carson City Senior Citizens Center has its work cut out in trying to make ends meet.
The center's cost for the 2003-04 year was $224,724 and it received $102,820 from the state's Division for Aging Services. The shortfall is made up through donations, fund-raisers and very frugal planning.
"We have received from DAS grants totaling $126,341 for this year," said Janice McIntosh, director of the center.
"This is state and federal funds combined. However, the scary thing for us this year is not knowing what will happen with the Senior Follies. It is a big fund-raiser for the program. We don't know what we're going to do.
"I get teased about pinching pennies. But we have to save money somewhere, and I share with others where and when we can."
McIntosh said the community can help by "adopting a senior." The cost for one month's meals is $44; three months is $132, six months is $264, and one year is $528.
In addition to buying food, the center uses donated food to cook daily meals and prepare frozen foods for weekend deliveries to the homebound. McIntosh said 150-200 meals are delivered daily.
Cost per meal last year was $4.69. The center's suggested meal donation is $2. They received an average of 85 cents from the homebound.
"No matter what they donate, we will deliver," McIntosh said. "It is still cheaper to have a senior living in their own home than for them to be placed in a nursing home.
"And I expect our costs to be higher this year, especially the cost of gas and maintenance for the delivery vehicles.
"The Thrift Store's sales contribute to the Meals on Wheels program, as do many anonymous donors and the seniors who eat here. We've tried to be so frugal we have actually lowered the average cost per meal."
McIntosh said Meals on Wheels drivers are the "eyes and ears" for the center. Recently, a driver was at a home in which the gas on the stove had been left on.
"That senior's life was saved," McIntosh said. "This service not only provides food, it's a life-line service."
Checks or money orders may be dropped off at the center, 911 Beverly Drive, in the Finance Office, or mailed to the same address, payable to Meals on Wheels or the Carson City Senior Citizens Center.
"Many people think we're part of the city and this is a city building. It's not. We are a private nonprofit. And as a charitable organization, the donations are tax-deductible."
Entering the holiday season, the center has for the past several years "adopted out" its seniors, asking others to provide a gift to the homebound residents. At this time of year, as meals are delivered, each of the homebound is given a slip of paper asking for their first and second choice of gifts that would benefit them most.
Most of the requests are small. They ask for robes, slippers, hard candy, stamps - items many take for granted. But they are items that would make them a little more comfortable or smile.
"We had one gentleman send the slip back with a check for $25 and a message that said, 'Give this to someone who can really use it.' Isn't that something?" said McIntosh.
"Groups who have supported this program for the past several years include the Carson City Raiders Booster Club, the Carson City District Attorney's Office, Wykle Research, Department of Business and Industry, staff of Department of Motor Vehicles, and local resident Mary Bulman. And there are many who have helped us in the past we are hoping come through again."
To adopt a senior for Christmas, call the center at 883-0703 and leave your name and phone number.
YOU CAN HELP
Cost: $44 per month; $132 for 3 months; $264 for six months; $528 for one year
Where: Meals on Wheels program, Carson City Senior Citizens Center, 911 Beverly Drive, Carson City, 89706
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What: Adopt a Senior for Christmas
Call: 883-0703 and leave your name and phone number
Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1223.