By Jim Goodson and Hannah Buchanan

Tammy Carraway is no stranger when it comes to helping those in need.

As the Cherokee County coordinator for Meals on Wheels of Palestine, Inc. in Jacksonville, Carraway helps many in Cherokee County who are homebound and aren’t able to provide food for themselves.

But Meals on Wheels is not only “a hot meal provided to the homebound person,” Carraway said.

“We also see that the person is safe and has some contact with the outside world each day. From our Jacksonville center we are delivering 200 meals each day in Cherokee County. Within the city of Jacksonville 105 of these meals are delivered each day.”

According to Carraway, who has been a part of Meals on Wheels for approximately 12 years, the program started in Palestine in 1975 by Fern Cooper.

“We only had 13 clients at the beginning and one county. We now cover three counties – Anderson, Cherokee and Rusk,” Carraway said. “We serve an average of 200 meals per day from Jacksonville. We have some clients who live out in the rural areas. I have five paid drivers and 10 volunteers in Jacksonville and 17 volunteers in Rusk. All of the meals are delivered in Rusk by volunteers. One of our drivers delivers to Alto and Wells four days per week.

“To me the program is important because it provides the homebound person with not only a hot meal but some contact with the outside world each day,” Carraway said. “A lot of these homebound people live alone. It makes you feel good inside to know that you have put a smile on someone’s face. I personally think that it is a great program, and it is a very rewarding experience.”

Carraway began working for Meals on Wheels in 1991 as a delivery driver and assisting with transporting seniors to the Meals on Wheels center located in Alto.

“I have always loved older people my entire life,” Carraway said. “When I was six years old we had an older couple who lived across the street from us, and I would go there each day and visit them. I loved them as if they were my grandparents. They had a special place in my heart.

“Meals on Wheels is in great need of volunteer or paid drivers to deliver meals here in Jacksonville. The routes that we need help on are in the city limits of Jacksonville and take around 30 minutes to an hour to deliver,” she added.

For more information or to volunteer, call Carraway at 903-586-3939 or stop by the Jacksonville Senior Center, 300 S. Bolton St. in Jacksonville.

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