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Valley Senior Center continues to deliver meals, hold events

VALLEY — The Valley Senior Center has been closed since March due to the spread of the coronavirus, but the senior center staff has remained busy five days a week getting meals to 138 seniors.

“We are still here and delivering 138 meals a day,” said Senior Center Manager Melissa Pitchford. “We have been going through a time that has been so much out of the norm. I have no idea when we will open back up. As we all know, COVID-19 is especially dangerous for the elderly, and we want to protect them.”

Pitchford is planning a social distancing get-together for her seniors on Thursday, June 4.

“We are going to have a Bingo Park and Play event,” she said. “It will be going on from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the parking lot in front of the center. I think it will be a lot of fun. We’ll need a sign up sheet to know how many want to play. We can then mark off spaces in the parking lot so every vehicle will be at least six feet apart. I will be out front calling out the letters in a megaphone. When someone wins, they can honk their horn, and we will give them a prize.”

Pitchford said that she knows the seniors would love for things to be back to normal.

“They want to come back, but they can’t. Our numbers are too high,” she said.

Alabama has 16,588 total confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. There have been 5,225 new cases over the last 14 days.

Pitchford said the senior center staff has done great work on behalf of the seniors during the closure.

“Our bus drivers, John Flournoy, Danny Walker, Terry Buford and substitute driver Randy Gullet, have been doing great work in getting the food delivered five days a week,” he said. “Around 20 people get a drive-in meal five days a week.”

Hot meals are delivered to the center every weekday morning. They are transported by GA Foods in Montgomery. “We measure the temperature to make sure it’s ready to go out,” Pitchford said. “Our state office in Anniston sends us boxes of snack items that we will add to each meal. There is no physical contact with the meals.  Everyone wears masks and gloves, even our drivers. When they make a delivery, they will set the box by their door and knock on the door or ring their doorbell.”

The seniors are looking forward to that meal and are happy to hear that knock on the door or the doorbell ringing at delivery time. The total of 138 recipients include some who are in the congregate program that’s been closed. Approximately 100 seniors are homebound. In some cases, the bus driver who is leaving the food is the only person they may see all day.

“Our drivers and Alice Hall, our kitchen manager, work well together as a team,” Pitchford said. “They do a great job every day, and I can’t thank them enough for what they are doing for our seniors.”

Some local businesses and senior center members have stepped up to donate bags used in food deliveries.

“We want to thank Walmart, Kroger and Givorns for this,” Pitchford said. “Also helping out have been Diane and Elbert Sanders, Patricia Wallace, Diane Bailey, Marcia Davis, and Community Center employees. We have 138 bags containing a fresh, hot meal going out every day Monday through Friday.  It helps to have this kind of support. We also have a belated thank you to Cindy Brooks of EAMC-Lanier Hospital. Back in March, she brought us some sack lunches for our congregate members. They were delivered to their homes.”