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Mayors move meals across western suburbs

20-year ECHO volunteer Bruce Widger, left, of Marcellus, and Marcellus Mayor John Curtin, far right, stand with George Schmidt, 94, outside his home on Kasson Road in Camillus after delivering him a hot meal at lunchtime.

20-year ECHO volunteer Bruce Widger, left, of Marcellus, and Marcellus Mayor John Curtin, far right, stand with George Schmidt, 94, outside his home on Kasson Road in Camillus after delivering him a hot meal at lunchtime. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— Village of Camillus Mayor Patricia Butler, a retired nurse, was more than willing to assist ECHO Meals on Wheels deliver hot lunches as part of today’s Mayors for Meals initiative.

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Mayors and volunteer drivers stand outside the ECHO Meals on Wheels headquarters in Camillus, from left to right: Bruce Widger, of Marcellus, Marcellus Mayor John Curtin, Camillus Mayor Patricia Butler, and Tim Miles and Tom Erwin, both of Camillus.

“I’m here today because I was invited, and I have experience with people who receive Meals on Wheels from my years as a nurse and in healthcare, and working with older adults through the PACE program of Loretto,” Butler said from ECHO’s headquarters in the Camillus Municipal Building on West Genesee Street. “And I know how important it is.”

“So it is a big honor to be asked here today,” she added, “and to go and meet some of the elders in the community that I may not have met and be able to assist with this project.”

Butler was joined by village of Marcellus Mayor John Curtin. The pair helped a handful of ECHO volunteers deliver 99 hot meals comprised of meat loaf, oven roasted potatoes and carrots with a side of diced peaches and a brownie.

The day was part of a national effort to raise awareness about the non-profit organization during Meals on Wheels month.

“Our main goal is to get our name out there to get the information out to the public that we serve as to what we do, who we serve and where we serve,” said ECHO board president Lori Gulgert.

What ECHO does is serve an average of 110 hot meals, 90 bag lunches and 50 frozen meals daily to people across the western suburbs who, regardless of age, are homebound. In 2011, ECHO’s 189 volunteers helped produce and deliver more than 37,000 meals to residents of Geddes, Camillus, Lakeland, Fairmount, Warners, Solvay, Onondaga, Marcellus and Westvale.

While you do not have to be a senior citizen to have ECHO deliver a meal to your home, Gulgert said a big part of the day’s purpose was to raise awareness of senior hunger, “which is a huge problem in this country, and what the Meals on Wheels programs do to help eliminate it.”

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ECHO Meals on Wheels board president Lori Gulgert

Meals on Wheels delivers to those who are chronically ill, temporarily indisposed due to accident, illness or surgery, seniors whose live-in relatives are away or at work, and anyone who would not have an adequate meal otherwise.

A hot meal costs $3.75 and can be supplemented with a frozen meal for $2 and a bag lunch for $1.50. All it takes to have a meal delivered is a phone call to ECHO, which can be reached at 487-2878. The same number should by dialed by anyone looking to volunteer.

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