Jacksonville's Jewish community delivers Meals on Wheels on Christmas

About 600 seniors receive meals

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of the Jacksonville Jewish community got up bright and early this Christmas to cook meals and deliver special packages to hundreds of elderly and homebound people in our community, while at the same time giving the usual Meals on Wheels workers a day off.

The members of Congregation Ahavath Chesed, known as “the Temple” on San Jose Boulevard, have been spreading cheer to people of all faiths for the past decade.
It was a very special delivery for 93-year-old Bonnie Gelman. Volunteers dropped by her Mandarin home with a fresh meal and a smile.

"I love company. I don’t have too much of that but I love it," Gelman said. 

She lost two husbands to cancer and now lives alone with her dog Domino. She says she always looks forward to visits from Meals on Wheels.

"It cheers me up a bit," Gelman said. "To see what was going on and what other people have to say."

Gelman is one of about 600 of seniors who received meals Monday. They are part of the Aging True Meals on Wheels. Every Christmas, members of Jacksonville’s Jewish community pitch in, delivering the meals so the usual Meals on Wheels workers can have the day off.

"There has to be hundreds of people who make today possible," said Ben Marsh of Congregation Ahavath Chesed. "It is a hot, delicious and nutritious meal. But more importantly it is nourishment for the soul. When someone smiles because it might be their only contact for the day, it is pretty incredible."

Other volunteers agreed.

"It’s about friendship and family," said Rachel Freeman. "Making sure that everybody has an all-around nice life."

Members of the Jacksonville Jewish Center also volunteered.

They also bake and deliver cookies to first responders, a welcome treat for those on duty to protect the community.

"Knowing that people are going to have a better Christmas, it’s probably what’s most important and special," said Honey Golden, a volunteer.

Volunteers say they get back more than they give--a chance to brighten someone’s day and spread some holiday cheer.

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