December 30, 2014

On Christmas Day volunteers from across the city, filled with the spirit of giving, helped Citymeals-on-Wheels provide thousands of Christmas meals to elderly New Yorkers who otherwise would have been alone for the holiday. 

Just one of the meal centers open on Christmas Day was the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Center’s kitchen was abuzz when generous volunteers prepared and packed nourishing holiday meals – consisting of Cornish hen with roasted potatoes, kale with peppers and mushrooms, and key lime pie – for delivery to their frail aged neighbors.

In total, more than 8,700 older New Yorkers enjoyed a Christmas meal thanks to Citymeals. These included home-delivered meals for our most vulnerable neighbors, as well as meals served at local senior centers for those who are able to leave their homes. Additionally, Citymeals delivered nearly 17,000 “Season’s Greetings” boxes – each containing three shelf-stable meals – in advance of the holiday. 

Executive Director Beth Shapiro explained, “Going all the way back to Christmas 1981 when Citymeals delivered its very first meal, our dedicated volunteers have celebrated this season of giving by bringing joy into the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors. The knock on the door, a friendly smile from a Citymeals volunteer and a delicious holiday meal reminds our homebound elderly that someone thought of them today. I’d like to thank all of our volunteers who put others before themselves, not just today but all year round.”

Nearly 400 volunteers spent Christmas Day helping Citymeals, including the O’Dell Family – Melissa, Ed and their two children, 22-year-old Ryder and 20-year-old Dallas – who have volunteered with Citymeals on Christmas for five consecutive years. Amongst the homebound elderly they visited was 68-year-old meal recipient Carol, a former New York City public school teacher who is blind.

Melissa O’Dell recalled, “When I was a child, my grandmother received meals on wheels so this mission has always been near and dear to my heart. It brought a sense of comfort to my parents knowing that my grandmother had a hot meal and a visit from someone every day. Today, my entire family is blessed to be able to give back in such a meaningful and important way.”

Volunteers Linda and Marilyn also delivered meals and holiday cheer to their isolated neighbors. 91-year-old meal recipient Pat said of their delivery, “It’s so overwhelming because I don't have family – so I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. It means more to me than I can say, honestly.”

See press coverage from Christmas Day on CBS NewsCBS New YorkPIX11NY1 and DNAinfo.