September 15, 2015

No one should celebrate holidays alone, but that is the unfortunate reality for thousands of homebound elderly New Yorkers. Many of them have outlived their spouses and, in some cases, even their children. Others may have family who live far away or are otherwise unable to visit. In fact, the only person many recipients see all day is their meal deliverer.

To help combat the loneliness of their isolated older neighbors, four-year-old volunteer Teddy Johnston and his parents Abby and Jesse Johnston provided them with much needed joy, nutritious meals and handmade greeting cards in honor of Grandparents Day.

The family met at the Carter Burden Center for the Aging on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Teddy – the grandson of longtime Citymeals volunteer Alan Schwartz – and his parents were also joined by Citymeals Executive Director Beth Shapiro. The group set out on foot making deliveries in the neighborhood to 78-year-old Del, who has lived in his apartment for more than forty years, and 83-year-old Rachel, a Holocaust survivor with no family living nearby.

Shapiro commented, "What a wonderful example Alan has been to his family, and how fitting that Teddy is delivering meals in honor of National Grandparents Day. He’s learned the importance of giving back from his grandfather at such a young age. Teddy and his mom and dad made sure their isolated neighbors had some company and a nourishing meal. Thank you to the Schwartz and Johnston families for not only understanding the importance of service, but for passing those values down from generation to generation."

When asked how he and his family became involved with Citymeals, Schwartz explained, "I’ve always wanted to give back. My family and I have breakfast together every Saturday, and I started bringing them along on meal deliveries to let them feel what it’s like to give back. I love when my grandson comes with me. He does a great job helping out, and the meal recipients really enjoy seeing him."

In addition to this special delivery, Citymeals hand-delivered personalized messages and cards for Grandparents Day along with our meals. Each year, Citymeals volunteers create thousands of handmade cards for the holidays. If you are interested in making cards for frail aged New Yorkers, contact us at

See coverage of the delivery with Teddy and his family from PIX 11.