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Volunteers bring meals in on classy wheels

By Ann C. Wayne
For the Salisbury Post

Stockings of Joy is an annual outreach event for Elder Orphan Care, a local nonprofit that ministers to the needs of the older adults in various ways throughout the year.

At Christmas, the nonprofit provides a meal and gifts for their clients as an added bit of joy. Elder Orphan Care also provides “Stockings of Joy” to all Meals on Wheels recipients in Rowan County each Christmas. This marks the fifth year that Elder Orphan Care has ministered in both Cabarrus and Rowan counties, but reaching out to the elderly is not a new program.

Elder Orphan Care began ministering to the elderly in Romania in 2011. It has taken teams of volunteers to Romania each year since then. Because of COVID, it was not able to make the journey this year. However, thanks to gracious donors, more than 500 older adults in Romania will still receive their “Stocking of Joy” filled with fun and practical gifts.

Occupational therapy practitioners with Elder Orphan Care visit the homes of the older adults in Cabarrus and Rowan counties who are at risk and perform safety assessments. Clients are then provided education, adaptive devices and/or medical equipment creating a safer environment allowing them to remain in their own home for as long as possible. An ongoing pantry program is another part of Elder Orphan Care’s local outreach. Clients are typically referred to Elder Orphan Care from other local organizations based on need and income.

Christmas Meals on Classy Wheels Drivers

On Saturday, Elder Orphan Care partnered with MPH — a men’s ministry with classic cars — to deliver meals and gifts to their clients. Kim Jackson, director of Elder Orphan Care contacted Don Duncan, the founder of MPH, about the group delivering meals to the elderly on their “classy wheels.” He immediately contacted the members of MPH to invite them to participate.

MPH stands for mission, purpose and honor. Duncan said it is a platform to share the gospel, based off of the ministry of “Promise Keepers.”

“We try to catch at car shows men where they are vulnerable,” Duncan said.

MPH is in its infancy and was birthed at Crossroads Church only two years ago. It was the first time for all of the classy car drivers to volunteer for Elder Orphan Care and Meals on Wheels.

Duncan stated, “Put yourself out there because you never know what people are going through. We’re here to serve the Lord. It is not about us.”

He would like to see this turn into an annual event. So, the first annual “Christmas Meals on Classy Wheels” event became a reality.

Duncan and another volunteer, Renee Smith, delivered meals and gifts in his 2014 Mustang.

Duncan owns MPH Brand Solutions, an advertising business that offers print, branded merchandise, media solutions and ecommerce. He is also a facilitator for Divorce Care at Crossroads Church.

Tim and Lisa Thornton drove up in their little, green 1970 MGB, a British car. They own the Wild Birds Store at Concord Mills, and Lisa is in public relations with the Cabarrus Arts Council.

“People are lonely during this time of year and we want them to feel loved,” Tim Thornton said, “This is a tough year for everyone and they are not having many visitors. If we can bring them joy, then why not volunteer and give back to the community?”

Tim’s 1970 MGB is 50 years old. They take it on the Blue Ridge Parkway when the weather is nice, but Saturday it was present to serve a good cause. He named his car, “Winston.” Lisa also has a 1969 white MGB. She thinks it is more attractive and calls it “Old Bean.”

Another classic car driver on Saturday was Ryan Brickley. He is the Manager of Rocky River Golf Club and also runs a program for disabled veterans through the PGA. It is called HOPE, and it aims to create a physically and emotionally healthier veteran. The acronym HOPE stands for helping our patriots everywhere. Brickley’s classic car is a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle.

Brickley said he felt that this opportunity with Elder Orphan Care and Meals on Wheels was very rewarding.

“We are providing hope and showing the community that the world is not all bad,” Brickley said.

Mick Vaught, who is a member of MPH was another participant. He drove a green Triumph TR6.

The blessed recipients

Geraldine Fink, a resident of Cabarrus County was one of the recipients of the meal and Christmas gifts last Saturday from Elder Orphan Care.

She said, “I can hardly find the words to describe what this has meant to me. Elder Orphan Care has literally saved our lives.” Fink exclaimed, “When I opened the gift, I just couldn’t believe it.” She had recently fallen out of bed and had requested a bed rail. EOC provided the bed rail and two pairs of pajamas for her. She had not purchased new pajamas in years.

She shared that her family is in a financial bind and that her husband has had multiple strokes, a broken neck and has other health issues. Groceries were delivered to them last week and then the Cracker Barrel meal on Saturday with gifts.

Elder Orphan Care provided a special set of dinnerware for her husband to help him hold the utensils more easily. Occupational Therapy Practitioners with EOC will also train him on how to use them. They loved the custom Christmas cards from children at Crossroads Church. She exclaimed, “Elder Orphan Care has changed our lives.”

Larry Taylor, a Native American, Vietnam vet and POW,  was blessed on Saturday with a special delivery. He has Agent Orange and is in a wheelchair. Taylor said, “It made me so happy to receive the meal on Saturday and a large print Bible.” The Bible was on his wish list with EOC. Taylor lives in Cabarrus County and loves the staff and volunteers from Elder Orphan Care. Now, all he wants for Christmas is a fruit basket.

Shirley Johnson, an enthusiastic elder, was overjoyed when she received the meal and gifts on Saturday.

She said, “The Elder Orphan Care program is wonderful. It has been a life saver for me.” The people are so nice and cordial and they understand my situation.

Because of the assistance with Elder Orphan Care, she is able to stay in her home. She loves the fact that EOC partners with other outreach organizations such as Meals on Wheels, local churches and most recently, MPH (the classic car men’s ministry).

Johnson gave EOC her wish list and when she received some of the items, she said, “It just made my day!” She received an electric heater for her bathroom and a microwave. And of course, the meal from Cracker Barrel was a real treat. Johnson volunteered for many years with Meals on Wheels and other outreach organizations. She understands the importance of reaching out to those less fortunate who need assistance. She is thankful to see the local outreach programs still going forward — especially during COVID. Johnson said, “I just can’t say enough about EOC. They are awesome!”

The “Stockings of Joy” for Rowan County Meals on Wheels recipients have been slightly delayed due to COVID-19 but EOC remains hopeful they will be delivered sometime during this holiday season. Each tote will be filled with treats, practical items, and love.

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