By Megan Graham
Tribune business writer
Mary Flaty beamed as she saw the young men approaching the door.
She swung open her front door, smiled widely, and said, “Is this something special?”
Taylor High School students dressed in their wrestling team polo shirts and letterman’s jackets handed her a hot meal in a plastic dish and a sack meal for later.
“Now this is a goody bag!” she grinned, holding up the meal student Kaleil Rucker had just handed her.
But Flaty was clearly more thrilled about the five students and their coach piling out of the white Taylor Community Schools van to come to her front door, saying usually she doesn’t get that quantity of visitors.
“What a special treat,” she said, waving goodbye to the boys. “Everybody came!”
Taylor High School students and wrestling team members Preston Hendrickson, Kaleil Rucker, Kalob Bitner, Dalton Arvin, Josh Foust, and their coach, Aaron Schlueter, spent the late morning Friday delivering Meals on Wheels around Kokomo. Twice a month, Taylor student groups sign up to deliver the meals to senior citizens recuperating from illnesses or living independently so they don’t need to worry about preparing meals every day. Meal costs are paid for by the clients and delivery is covered by volunteers.
Christine Shuck, the executive director of Howard County Meals on Wheels, said the program delivers to 42 clients each weekday. The meals are prepared at St. Joseph Hospital, then picked up and delivered on six routes by volunteers. Shuck said meals can be specialized if clients have dietary concerns.
Jeremy Luna, Taylor High School Assistant Principal, said the school began sending volunteers in mid-September. Since then, the Future Business Leaders of America, choir groups, student council and various athletic teams have signed up to do deliveries.
“People don’t really know what’s going on outside their little bubble,” Luna said. “An elderly person that can’t get out of their house, if you’re a teenage kid you’ve maybe never seen that before. You would never be able to understand that until you see it with your own eyes.”
“We’re trying to use it as a real-life lesson. This teaches them a little bit about health and humanity. It’s one of those real-life skills.”
Shuck agrees, saying she hopes it opens the eyes of students.
“I think it’s good for the students to get out there and see what’s out there,” she said. “Some [of our clients] are in good shape and don’t need much help and others are in really bad shape.”
“Hopefully it will get around to some of the other schools.”
Senior Josh Foust said he’d delivered meals with the football team before.
“It’s good to get out in the community and do something,” he said. “And it’s pretty fun.”
Flaty, who says she’s been receiving meals for three or four weeks, said her experience with Meals on Wheels has been nothing but pleasant.
“I like all of it,” she said, examining her lunch of country fried steak, mac & cheese and beets. “It’s all been wonderful.”
Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.