At 92 years old, Ruth Chamberlain is slowing down. Her Highland Park home, once full of children, is quiet except for the television and the occasional visits from city services employees.
And there are her daily visits from the Meals on Wheels volunteers. They keep her going — literally.
“They come every day, except Saturday and Sunday,” says Chamberlain, who has used the daily services for more than a year since she had a blackout spell and fell.
“I get around pretty good,” says Chamberlain, a granddaughter of slaves. “I can fix a meal sometimes.”
With Christmas approaching, meals aren't the only thing older Richmonders like Chamberlain need, says Rich Schultz, executive vice president of Feed More. The nonprofit represents the newly formed umbrella organization that since July has included both Meals on Wheels and the Central Virginia Food Bank.
The organization delivers meals to more than 900 Richmonders daily, and every Christmas it tries to deliver a bit more to its neediest clients.
“The elderly — especially the homebound elderly — are often forgotten at the holidays,” Schultz says. “It is stuff we usually take for granted. It's stuff like light bulbs and batteries and socks and blankets — just things that they need.”
In the past, the program also has found its way to supply a few bigger ticket items. Last year a man with terminal cancer “asked for a hot water heater for Christmas,” Schultz says. “Who doesn't take hot water for granted?”
As for Chamberlain: “I'll just be happy if I'm here,” she says, laughing. “I just say ‘Lord, let me stay on my own legs until I go.’”
In addition to the occasional large appliance, Schultz says, the program collected more than 3,000 items last year.
Donations can be made at Meals on Wheels headquarters at 1600 Willow Lawn Drive, or at any CVS Pharmacy.