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Lending a Hand


Operation Round-Up helps two local organizations meet basic needs


Story and photos by Clint Branham E


VEN in a land of opportunity, not everyone receives adequate nourish- ment. And sometimes the best opportu- nity is an opportunity to lend a helping hand.


Local organizations are doing a tremen- dous job of meeting nutritional needs for individuals in our area. Members of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Coop- erative who contribute to Operation Round-Up are unknowingly providing essential support for two of these great organizations.


Operation Round-Up recently awarded $3,000 in assistance to the backpack nutrition program sponsored by the Craig County chapter of the Salvation Army. The Operation Round-Up Trust Foundation board of directors approved the grant during its March 2014 meet- ing. During the same meeting, the Trust Foundation board granted $2,500 to help the South Grand Lake Meals on Wheels program purchase food and supplies.


Brain food


The Salvation Army’s backpack nutrition program feeds 80-90 students in Vinita and Craig County each day during the school year. Bags are fi lled with an array of food items and delivered to schools. Faculty members then place bags in the students’ backpacks before they leave school and head home each afternoon.


Coordinator Joyce Dishman has been with the backpack nutrition program


4 - Northeast Connection


since its inception eight years ago. She said the program exists solely on contributions and praises the dedication of numerous volunteers throughout the community for help carrying out the eff ort each day from start to fi nish.


“We are very appreciative of all the peo- ple who help us,” Dishman said. “The only way the program can stay afl oat is to continue to have contributions. It is especially valuable to have a donation of this size. The people in this community and in this county have been so good to Salvation Army and we are so thankful for all of the support we receive.”


A scaled-down version of the backpack nutrition program extends into summer months as well. When school is not in session, bags can be picked up by needy individuals at Salvation Army headquar- ters in Vinita.


“We have a small summer program,” said Dishman. “We put a note in each child’s backpack in May, at the end of the school year. We tell them that if they need food, they can pick up a bag at the Salvation Army.”


Meals on wheels


Three days a week, 52 weeks a year, you’ll fi nd a group of volunteers at the South Grand Lake Christian Church in Ketchum busy preparing meals for delivery. On this particular day the South Grand Lake Meals on Wheels program is feeding 37 people but often provides service to more than fi fty individuals


each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The dynamic duo of Shirley Bellati and Judy Starcevich started this labor of love back in March 2005. Both are still actively involved today. Now, around fi fty volunteers are needed to carry out the labor intensive endeavor.


Cristy Foster, who has coordinated the South Grand Lake Meals on Wheels pro- gram for the past fi ve years, says there is more involved than meets the eye.


“We have 24 menus we rotate through the month,” she explained. “Each meal includes a main dish, salad, dessert and a vegetable. And on Mondays we always take them a quart of milk.”


Said Foster: “For some of the families we serve, this may be the only food they get. When we come to the door they are always very appreciative of what we bring them. Of course, we have some who can’t even get up and come to the door so we take it inside the house for them. It is very rewarding. It is a wonder- ful way for a lot of us to give back. Who is to say that couldn’t have been any of us?”


An assembly line of volunteers accom- plishes the seemingly impossible task, carefully fi lling specially designed meal trays, which are then shrink-wrapped to preserve their contents. Trays often contain enough for a few leftovers.


“They can usually get a couple of meals out of them if they want to,” Foster said.


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