By Justin Reedy

Sara Melton delivers meals to homebound senior citizens, but she gets just as much sustenance from it as those she helps.

The 75-year-old Jonesboro resident has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels through the Clayton County Aging Program for about five years, delivering food to elderly residents who can't regularly leave their homes.

And though Melton and her fellow Meals on Wheels volunteers give a boost to those seniors, they get just as much n if not more n out of the program.

"To me, I get the blessing from it," Melton said. "Every day that I do it, I feel better. They lift your spirits, instead of you lifting theirs."

Melton's Meals on Wheels partner, 82-year-old Lorena Helms, loves the chance to be able to help fellow seniors who aren't able to get around anymore.

"I like it, because we feel like we're helping somebody," Helms said. "I get close to them. They look forward to you coming."

The more than 300 volunteers in the county's Meals on Wheels program provide meals five days a week to about 170 homebound seniors around the county, according to Mindy French, the manager of the Aging Program. In addition to giving nourishment, French said, the Meals on Wheels helps homebound seniors stay in contact with other people, making it invaluable to those residents.

"They have no other way to get that midday meal," French said. "Plus, the volunteer might be the only contact they have with anyone during the day."

But even with the hundreds of volunteers the program has participating, the county still needs more people who can help out, according to Meals on Wheels coordinator Ethelree Sanders. The program doesn't require a large commitment of time, Sanders said, so it is a great way for busy people to help in the community.

"It only takes about an hour to deliver a meal," Sanders said. "They can volunteer to do an hour a week, or an hour a month, or whatever they can do."

Volunteers who can deliver meals in the Riverdale, Morrow and Forest Park areas are needed the most right now, Sanders said, especially with some Forest Park volunteers having recently retired.

In addition to individual volunteers, some local businesses and government agencies have employee groups who take part in the Meals on Wheels program, such as UPS and the Riverdale Police Department, as well as the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services, Tax Assessors' office, Tax Commissioner's office and the Clerk of the Superior Court's office.

To volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program, call Sanders at (770) 603-4055.