OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of homebound Ocean Springs residents enjoy hot meals, courtesy of The Lord is my Help's Meals on Wheels program. Those people might go hungry if not for the efforts of volunteers. And they donate their time all year long, not just during the holidays.
Ron Starnes is one of those volunteers. He's a man on a mission, a mission of goodwill. After the hot meals are prepared and boxed up, he hits the road, delivering more than a dozen dinners every day.
He knows he's making a real difference.
"The people that receive it usually really appreciate it. It keeps a lot of them in the dignity of their own home, versus having to go to a nursing home. And I think that's important," Starnes explained.
The hot meals are considered a Godsend by many, including David Booker.
"Well, it helps me out tremendously. Because after I pay my bills with my social security, I run kind of slack on food money and other money for the house," Booker said.
In this environment, relationships form quickly.
"They're like family. They get to be like family. Some of them I've worked with for over five years," Starnes said.
And that family is thankful for the kindness.
"I hope that everyone out there in television land realizes that when you need help, help is available. You just have to reach out," meal recipient MaryAnn Jobson said.
Back at home base, that reaching out is considered priceless for Barbara Ruddiman, general manager of the Lord is my Help.
"Without my volunteers, I would be dead in the water. I have 20 volunteers alone that just drive for me weekly," Ruddiman said.
Sometimes, no one is home at a stop. So Starnes leaves the meals in a box, to be enjoyed later. He feels certain he receives more from this than he could ever give.
"You can't get a better feeling. Some of us, I'm 79 and I think it helps you last longer, too, Starnes explained.
The Lord is my Help can always use a bit of your help to keep the program going. Cash donations are accepted, or you can donate non-perishable food items or even your time.