St. Vincent's, Meals on Wheels volunteers make, deliver Thanksgiving dinners

Tradition fills gap for seniors who might not get holiday meal otherwise

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Volunteers and associates from St. Vincent’s HealthCare prepared 700 warm Thanksgiving meals for local families in need that were distributed by Meals on Wheels volunteers.

It was the 25th year St. Vincent’s has prepared the meals. 

“We are thrilled to continue this Thanksgiving Day tradition which helps hundreds of families in our community,” said Tom VanOsdol, president and CEO of Ascension Florida, which includes St. Vincent’s HealthCare. “We couldn’t do it without the amazing support we receive from our associates and community partners who so generously offer their time and talents to help others.” 

Ascension is the nation’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health system.

St. Vincent’s Clay County created 200 meals for residents in need in Clay County and St. Vincent’s Riverside created 500 meals primarily for Jacksonville-area Meals on Wheels clients using: 

•    250 lbs. of turkey
•    175 lbs. of green beans
•    175 lbs. of mashed potatoes
•    175 lbs. of stuffing
•    90 lbs. of cranberries

It was the second year Sous Chef Kimberly Walton cooked the meals.

“I feel like there’s so many things in my life that I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my beautiful children, my wonderful husband. I think it’s so easy to take simple things for granted -- like a hot meal,” Walton said. 

Walton's family came out to support her, including 13-year-old El, who said her mom's example motivates her to help those who aren't as lucky as she is.

“Not a lot of people, at my age especially, do it,” El said. “But I think a lot of people should, because it’s really fun. It does better for the community.”

Aging True Community Senior Services’ Meals on Wheels program serves over 900 seniors every weekday, except holidays. 

“Without the generosity of St. Vincent's HealthCare and zTrip many of our seniors would not have a hot, nutritious meal on Thanksgiving. Aging True is extremely grateful for the gift of time and resources that  St. Vincent’s, zTrip, and the host of volunteer groups that are able to provide us during the Thanksgiving holiday," said Teresa K. Barton, Aging True's CEO.

Among the drivers who signed up with Aging True is Samir Mostafa. He drives Super Shuttle for a living.

Loading up 12 meals into his shuttle, Mostafa made several stops in Riverside and one in Northwest Jacksonville, where he delivered a turkey dinner to 91-year-old Ola Mae Mott.

"I’m thankful for Meals on Wheels," Mott said. "I’ve been getting them for so many years. It comes in handy for people like me that are not able to fix their meals and have them on time.”

The senior said it’s been hard to go out shopping and cooking, so a few minutes of Samir’s time will stay with her for days.

“I would join the family later this afternoon, so I’ll stay right here and be grateful and thankful for y’all coming to serve me when I can’t afford to go out and enjoy,” Mott said. 

St. Vincent’s Clay County is working with the Clay County Council on Aging, a local NJROTC group and various community members to prepare, package and deliver its portion of meals to families in need.