The Christmas season is a perfect time of the year to give back to the community, and a handful of area high school students recently found that out in a practical way.
Students in the SUNY Fredonia Upward Bound Program recently assisted board members of the Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels with preparing 1,500 solicitation mailings in the St. John's United Church of Christ building.
"This was an opportunity for the students to give back to those who are shut inside their homes," Loretta Slaton Torain, director of the Upward Bound Program, said. "It's a nice community service project for them since they are required to complete at least three projects per year. Most actually do six or seven projects a year."
OBSERVER Photo by Greg Fox
Area high school students in the SUNY Fredonia Upward Bound Program assist Dunkirk-Fredonia Meals on Wheels board members in preparing solicitation mailings in the St. John’s United Church of Christ building. Pictured around the front table, clockwise from left to right: Upward Bound students Mark Baron, Amancia Viera, Johanna Vargas, Megan Skelly, Chet Baron and Ulyses Rojas.
Dunkirk senior and Upward Bound student Agape Berakah was in the holiday spirit when she went in to help with the mailings.
"It's Christmas, so it's a time of joining together to spread joy through friends and family," she said regarding the importance of helping others.
"It's always good to give back to the community," Chet Baron, another Upward Bound student, stated simply.
Besides Agape and Chet, students who took time to volunteer included Ulyses Rojas, Mark Baron, Amancia Viera, Johanna Vargas and Megan Skelly.
"Every December and May, we send out these solicitation letters to make people aware of our organization," Meals on Wheels Executive Director Sarah Hornbostel said. "These letters account for 30 percent of our revenues each year, which helps us provide more meals to homebound seniors throughout northern Chautauqua County."
Hornbostel added Meals on Wheels volunteers help seniors with the risk of social isolation, as well as provide safety checks on them when they drop by the homes. Last year, the organization delivered 75,376 meals and responded to 132 emergency calls concerning clients.
"We are so thankful for the help the Upward Bound Program provided to us," Hornbostel said. "What usually takes us a week to do was done in a few hours. It definitely saves us time and money and it's nice to see students giving back to their community."
Upward Bound Program Coordinator Patricia Messina said the students had also helped out with the Meals on Wheels delivery routes this past summer.
The Upward Bound Program is an educational opportunity program for low-income Americans, with the goal of providing help to students in overcoming class, social and cultural barriers to higher education. The local program was established in 1989 and currently has about 100 students from five area schools enrolled in it, according to Torain.
To make a donation to Meals on Wheels, go online to www.dfmealsonwheels.org, or call the office at 366-8822. Donations may be made in memory or in honor of an individual and their name will be added to the organization's book of remembrance.
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