HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - There were concerns in mid-September that Meals on Wheels would run out of money, leaving hundreds of home-bound people without something to eat. But thanks to the community, bellies will remain full.
Donations for Meals on Wheels poured in and the organization was saved, but it didn’t stop there.
On Thursday morning, a handful of volunteers prepped Beefaroni dinners inside Meals on Wheels’ Carolina Forest kitchen, located on Postal Way. ‘Chef’ Kerry Straley led the charge, making the menu and shopping for the 400 meals a week the organization prepares.
“I cook because I said if I delivered the meals to these people I probably would have to open a hotel because I want them to come back to my house,” Straley said with a laugh.
Meals were packed in warming bags and handed off to delivery drivers. Rich and Judy McAndrew were two of the drivers. Although Meals on Wheels delivers to all of Horry County, the McAndrew’s deliver along a route through Myrtle Beach’s Racepath community.
“It’s very satisfying and gratifying what we do. It makes you feel good,” Rich said.
WMBF News rode along for a handful of meal drop-offs. While Rich talked, Judy navigated.
One man spoke with WMBF News about getting to know the McAndrews from their route. His mother, who suffers from Alzheimers Disease, receives the meals.
“They’re the greatest of the world,” the recipient’s son told WMBF News. “It makes it much easier for us as a family. I appreciate everything they do and it’s very nice of them to look out for the elderly folks the way they do," he said with a smile.
Meals on Wheels is need-based, and a recipient must qualify before becoming part of the program. With around 400 meals a week to deliver, the McAndrews are busy, and many people are depending on the program’s success.
It’s scary to think about how many people in Horry County could have gone hungry if the program ran out of money last month. But, the community stepped up in support and fundraising. Now, it’s happening again.
“Probably five years now I’ve been doing it for charity. We’ve done Red Cross, St. Jude, Wounded Warriors, Help4Kids was last year,” David Parker said.
Parker has been the head of the ‘Haunted House of the Farm’ for the last decade. He decided this year’s proceeds from the haunted house would go to Meals on Wheels after hearing it was struggling on the news.
Parker said, with the help of his neighbors, he starts bringing his most haunted possessions down from the attic a month before Halloween. They range from life-size animatronics to gravestones, creepy lights, goblins and ghouls. He said his haunted house this year is over 3,000 square feet.
“It went with us creeping down in the bushes, in costume and jumping out at the kids and just watching their faces. That was really fun. Then, the next year we started building caskets and then we started building walls. It had windows for the adults to watch their kids go through and take pictures of the kids getting scared and then it just got bigger,” Parker explained.
Two of Parker’s three kids, along with friends, are the ‘live characters’ of the haunted house. He has to wait until the last minute to put up the automated, life-size props. The haunted house is different every year, he said.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a line wrapped down the street, on the busiest street, at Parker’s house on Halloween night. He said he doesn’t charge you to go through the haunted house. But if you want to donate, he asks for cash to go to Meals on Wheels instead of canned goods.
He’ll open the haunted house to little ones who want to go through without the ‘scary stuff’ on from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The haunted house is open to everyone, with the scare factors, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Halloween, Friday and Saturday nights. The Parker’s address is 3356 Picket Fence Lane in Myrtle Beach.