'Can't express the gratitude': Meals delivered to Bay Area seniors spending Thanksgiving alone

"The people who are getting meals today are homebound, older adults who don't have the ability to do their own grocery shopping."
SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- In San Rafael, volunteers lined up in their cars Thursday morning to pick-up warm, Thanksgiving meals to deliver to people in need throughout Marin County.

The nonprofit Vivalon, in partnership with Meals on Wheels, calls this "Operation Thanksgiving." They made sure anyone alone and in need of a meal on Thursday could get one.

"The people who are getting meals today are homebound, older adults who don't have the ability to do their own grocery shopping. They are alone on Thanksgiving Day," Anne Grey, Vivalon's CEO, told ABC7 News.

Grey said the volunteers delivered more than 150 meals on Thursday.

"We have about 40 cars that are coming in, filled with families, grandparents, grandchildren, husband and wives, son and dad," Grey said. "We've had every mixture of families to have this great experience together."

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Nancy Stevens decided to volunteer for the first time after years of giving financial donations to "Meals on Wheels."

"This is the first year where I thought, why don't I get involved, involved instead of just sending money," Stevens said. "So, I'm really excited...it will be the highlight of my day."

Jeanne Kraft and her husband Chris also signed up to deliver meals.

"We're really grateful," Kraft said. "We feels so privileged in life, so we want to give back. We're happy to do it."

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Each meal included all the traditional thanksgiving dishes -- turkey, stuffing, potatoes and a sweet dessert -- as well as a hand-made "Happy Thanksgiving" card made by local Girl Scouts.

"Hopefully it will feel like home for them even if they're alone," Grey said.

ABC7 News followed volunteer Nicole Levintow and her partner, David, as they made a delivery to Katie Herlevic, a 73-year-old woman who lives alone in Novato.

"It's just, I can't express the gratitude I feel to get Meals on Wheels," Herlevic said. "Especially on a day when I would have been alone."

It was a reminder on this Thanksgiving that simple gesture can go a long way.

"It's really our community health, it's about our social health, it's about their nutritional health," Levintow said. "It's really, what can you do to make someone's day better, someone's week better?"

For Herlevic, she said it really makes a difference.

"I'm really happy today," she said. "Thank you."

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