By Alex Bridges
NEW MARKET -- Phyllis Reedy and dozens of other homebound seniors received a hot, fresh-cooked Christmas meal on Monday thanks to the staff of the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging.
SAAA staff decided to spend their day off in Front Royal on Monday by cooking turkey and traditional side dishes for Meals on Wheels recipients and then distributing the food across the region. SAAA staff and volunteers decided they wanted to provide food to clients who may find themselves alone on the holiday.
Most of the staff donated the food or money to help the effort, according to Interim Executive Director Cynthia Palmer.
As snow began to fall on the region, staff delivered 70 meals to recipients in Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties.
Palmer said staff members planned to give an extra treat to one woman in Frederick County who turned 94 that day. The staff donated a birthday gift basket to the woman.
SAAA Director of Fiscal Operations Jonathan Price and his mother, Mary Beth Price, took meals to recipients in Strasburg, Edinburg, Woodstock and New Market.
"What a nice treat," said Strasburg resident Ann Bailard as the Prices brought in her meal. "I hope Santa's good to you. He's already been good to me."
At an apartment complex in New Market, the Prices brought meals to Phyllis Reedy and two other women, all of whom expressed gratitude for the food and their efforts.
Edna Chrisner said she hoped the meal would help her put on a few more pounds.
"This is the first time I had anything like this," Chrisner said.
The crew began their efforts around 8 a.m. Once they finished cooking the food just before 11 a.m. workers formed an assembly line to fill the dozens of containers with the entrée and side dishes. Then staff began taking boxes of the containers to the recipients. Clients received dessert cake and fresh-baked cookies. In addition to the food, clients received Christmas cards made by students at Millbrook High School in Frederick County.
The effort took 12 staff members and 13 volunteers, according to Palmer.
"It really didn't take a lot," Palmer said. "I mean everyone just up and said 'yeah, we want to do this.'"
Marty Schiller, the agency's specialist on the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program, recalled that all her fellow staff volunteered for the effort.
"You wish ... that we could be there to see their faces when they get it," Schiller said. "But it's a good feeling. That's what this is about."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org