Volunteer travels 5,000 miles to deliver meals

Messenger photo by Dedra Cordle
Meals-on-Wheels volunteer Sam Chheang (right), with assistance from his mother, Sochea, loads his car with food to take to homebound residents throughout Madison County. Chheang, who resides in London, has volunteered with the organization since 2015 and recently received the Donald Dhume Spirit Award for accumulating the most miles and hours in one year.

(Posted June 5, 2018)

By Dedra Cordle, Staff Writer

A little peek over the shoulder has made a big impact on the life of London resident Sam Chheang.

Nearly four years ago, the need to move struck Chheang while he was working a routine shift in the information technology department for the city of Columbus.

“I was just up and about, pacing back and forth around the room, when something caught my attention,” said the 43-year-old.

That something was an email his co-worker had up on a computer screen. The message featured a logo of a person and a heart, with a header pleading for assistance.

“I asked him what that was and he told me all about LifeCare Alliance, Meals-on-Wheels, and their volunteer program,” he explained.

Soon after, Chheang visited LifeCare’s Madison County distribution site at Madison Health in London and said he wanted to help.

“They haven’t been able to get rid of me since,” he said with a laugh.

Though Chheang and his family have lived in the United States for more than 30 years and he has resided in London for more than 17 years, he says he had never heard of Meals-on-Wheels. He said he immediately respected their mission.

“They perform a vital service, and I am proud to be part of it,” he stated.

He said when he began delivering meals to residents who participate in the program–typically those aged 60 and older with health or financial difficulties–he wondered when he would have the time to contribute. He quickly realized his mornings were free.

“I was just sitting at home, watching television before [I started volunteering], and I would probably just be doing that had I not [volunteered],” he said.

His usual delivery route takes him across Madison County at least three times a week with six regular residents. He says he doesn’t really keep track of his mileage or time spent on the road as he considers that “unimportant” and loves every aspect of participating in the volunteer program.

“I just enjoy being involved in an organization that helps others,” he said.

Recently, Meals-on-Wheels celebrated its 30th anniversary in Madison County. A banquet on May 9 served to recognize the work of the program’s volunteers. Chheang was among the honorees.

According to Madison County program coordinator Leah Baird, Chheang received with the Donald Dhume Spirit Award for traveling the most miles (5,000) and volunteering the most hours (268) over the course of a year. Though she said she knows those milestones don’t matter to Chheang, she said every single mile and minute he and the other volunteers spend delivering meals means the world to the organization.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them,” Baird said.

Currently, about 125 volunteers help to deliver meals to more than 200 Madison County residents. Baird said she is always looking for more help. The need is especially critical right now, as the organization is short on volunteers.

To learn more about becoming a LifeCare Alliance Meals-on-Wheels volunteer, call (740) 845-7325 or visit www.lifecarealliance.org. Baird said delivery schedules are very flexible. Volunteers can donate as much or as little time as they like.

Meals-on-Wheels volunteer recognition banquet

LifeCare Alliance, a leading provider of Meals-on-Wheels, recently recognized outstanding volunteers in Madison County for their service to homebound older adults and individuals with medical challenges and disabilities.

  • The Spirit Award went to Levi and Cora Miller for their longstanding volunteer service. The Millers not only believe in what they are doing but also have recruited others to volunteer. They can be counted on to “substitute” at the last minute without hesitation.
  • The Helpful Spirit Award went to Marjorie Hopkins for her willingness to help with additional tasks for the clients, along with her regularly scheduled Meals-on-Wheels routes.
  • The Meals-on-Wheels Corporate Spirit Award went to Krazy Glue for its long-term commitment to meal route adoption.
  • The Community Service Spirit Award went to Madison Health. Each year, the award goes to a club, organization or church for their long-term commitment to meal route adoption.
  • The Donald Dhume Spirit Award went to Sam Chheang as the driver who accumulated the most volunteer hours while delivering meals.
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