The Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland (MOWCM) Grocery Assistance Program (GAP) started 21 years ago to provide grocery shopping assistance to homebound individuals unable to shop for themselves. The program works by matching a participant with a dedicated volunteer. Together, they will decide on a plan that fits their schedules. The volunteer then shops and delivers needed items such as food stuffs and other household
goods from the participant’s list. These shopping partnerships create real bonds and foster special connections between people who may have never met otherwise. Students such as Ashley and Victoria bring their own perspectives and experiences volunteering for GAP.
Victoria S. and Ashley W.
Great friends Victoria and Ashley (both 21) were interested in volunteering together to help their community during the pandemic. Victoria will soon be graduating from Northeastern University and has previous volunteer experience working with the homeless population in Boston. She became passionate about the issue of food insecurity and wanted to find a COVID-safe way to reach a population in need of nutritional assistance.
Ashley, a student at Johns Hopkins University was also eager to help out. After an online search, they found MOWCM and decided to give volunteering for GAP a try together in Howard County. When asked why they choose GAP, Victoria says, “I have always liked grocery shopping. It is clear that this is a very vital service. I also like that the program allows for consistent interaction with the same client(s).”
Ashley agrees saying, “It’s really special to be able to form a relationship with the client. Many clients live alone, and it can be isolating- especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when senior activities were so limited.”
Both Victoria and Ashley enjoy when their client shares advice and makes cross-generational connections. It is a unique opportunity that would not have happened if not for MOWCM. Victoria says, “Volunteering for GAP
has shown me how small gestures can really go a long way. From learning our client’s preferences to her sharing candy apples on New Years.” Volunteering in college can provide a way to build strong community ties while spending time with friends like Victoria and Ashley.