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Meals on Wheels gets boost from dealership

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Many local businesses are embracing the spirit of giving during the holiday season, from coat drives and food drives, to Toys for Tots and fundraisers. At Gold Rush Subaru in Auburn, the focus is on Meals on Wheels. This is the fourth year the company has partnered with charities in its nationwide “Share the Love” campaign, according to General Sales Manager Stuart Snyder. “I always look for local charities,” he said. “Last year it was SPCA.” Snyder had not yet chosen a charity for this year when he was approached by Seniors First. A conversation with Kerri Walker, Seniors First fund development coordinator, quickly convinced him to lend a hand. “When they talked to me about it, it was a huge opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t know some of the statistics, but they are mind boggling, how many seniors go hungry every year.” Working with Walker, Snyder and his team came up with ways to assist the Meals on Wheels program. They rolled out the first event Dec. 5, with Snyder, his wife Liz and four sales staff members — Patti Jensen, Dustin Weiland, James Woolley and Mark Cruson — making Meals on Wheels noon deliveries in three new Subarus. Santa Claus — volunteer Dave Blau — accompanied the Snyders on their rounds. “We delivered 27 lunches to seniors,” Snyder said in an e-mail. Prior to making the deliveries, the Snyders toured the Seniors First facility. The whole team visited the kitchen to see how the food is prepared. Then they set out on their routes, accompanied by program volunteers. “We did six stops with them on the drive,” Snyder said. “We went in into every home and met every senior. It was neat. You see Santa and can’t help but smile.” As part of the effort for Meals on Wheels, Snyder launched a food drive at the dealership in early December. “We asked all employees to bring in some non-perishable items,” he said. He brought in two containers and hopes community donations will fill them with food by the end of the drive on Dec. 21. “On (Dec.) 22 or 23, we’ll donate all the food (to Seniors First) and then do another Meals on Wheels drive,” he said. “We want to do that right before Christmas.” Those who donate two or more food items at the dealership will get a coupon for a discount on an oil change, he said. The partnership with Seniors First and the Meals on Wheels program won’t end after the holidays. “This will be all of 2012,” Snyder said. “We will stay teamed up with them and we’ll try to do some type of event with them either monthly or quarterly. We want an ongoing partnership. That’s really important. That’s part of a requirement for Subaru to provide a $35,000 grant for them. If they can show an ongoing relationship and provide all the different events, they could qualify for and receive the grant, so the key is to get them the money.” For Walker, winning the grant would give Seniors First a very helpful boost. “Between the aging of baby boomers and cuts in state funding and other funding, we’re witnessing a huge influx of a need for all of our services,” she said. “At the same time, our corporations and foundations that support us are decreasing the amount of those grants.” In the meantime, Gold Rush Subaru’s food drive will be very welcome. “A lot of times, we get emergency phone calls,” Walker said. “Clients just don’t have a way of getting food. Employees will pick up food (for them) or we have food in stock. With what (Snyder) collects, we’ll go back out in Subarus and deliver that to the seniors, so they’ll have a little additional throughout the year. … Until I got into this, I had no idea that people live in the conditions they live. It was an eye-opening experience.” Response to Gold Rush Subaru’s food drive has been “pretty good” so far, Snyder said. “We’re still getting word out,” he said. “We’re slowly starting to fill up the two bins. Everyone tells me to relax. It’s still new. I really want to end the year for them with a bang and bring in two cans filled with food.” Community support keeps Seniors First programs alive. “We get a lot of local funding from various groups and companies for all (the Seniors First) programs and we rely heavily on all those partners,” Walker said. ------------ To help out Make a non-perishable food donation for Meals on Wheels at Gold Rush Subaru, 670 Grass Valley Highway, N. Auburn; phone (530) 885-4019 Spread the word Tell us about what your business is doing for the needy in the community this holiday season. Post a comment at auburnjournal.com