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Meals on Wheels radio telethon beats $18,000 goal

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MASSENA - With 10 minutes to go and a goal of $18,000, the tote board that was put up for Friday’s Meals on Wheels radio telethon was sitting at $12,280.

And then the magic happened.

Masters of ceremonies Sanford T. Cook and R. Shawn Gray were putting out the call over the radio to get bids in fast, and the phones continued to ring up until the radio telethon signed off.

At 5 p.m. the final count was made on the bids and Chairman Mark D. Bogdan went to the tote board. There, he slowly wrote out 0, then 6, then 3, and then 1, purposely waiting to add the final number.

“Drumroll please,” he said.

And the result was $18,360, beating last year’s number by about $1,000, according to Mr. Bogdan.

“This year businesses came through with donations and personal donations. The cash donations got it started,” he said as the volunteers in the room celebrated the final number.

Their goal had originally been $15,000 this year, but Mr. Bogdan said it was bumped up to cover budget shortfalls. “With the budget shortfalls, we have to make it up,” he said.

And they did.

“I’m very surprised. I’m very happy with it,” Mr. Bogdan said. “They were listening in and came in with sizeable donations.”

It was important, he said, because of funding that was either dipping or staying flat while the demand for Meals on Wheels services was increasing.

Meals on Wheels Executive Director Jessica J. Fregoe said the final number surprised her when she saw it on the tote board.

“I think Mark did this to me,” she said. “I’m very, very happy. Again, Massena comes through. We have wonderful volunteers and wonderful people who value our service.”

Like Mr. Bogdan, she stressed the importance of Friday’s radio telethon.

“This is the big fundraiser that’s going to keep us going,” she said, noting their subsidy runs out this month, leaving them with the remainder of October and all of November and December to cover their expenses before the subsidy is renewed in January. The money raised covers their basic operating costs, including food, lights and heat, she said.

At the same time, they’re delivering 92 meals, with two more people starting on Monday, according to Ms. Fregoe. Their summer numbers were in the high 70s. They delivered meals to 105 recipients last winter.

Massena Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver hot, nutritious meals within a 10-mile radius of Massena to the elderly, handicapped, less fortunate and those recovering from illness or surgery in Massena and Louisville. Hot meals are delivered Monday through Friday, and frozen meals are delivered for people on the weekends.At the end of August, they had delivered more than 14,000 meals so far this year.

Their service allows recipients to stay in their own homes and also assures their families that they are eating properly.

Massena Meals on Wheels is partially funded by the New York State Office of the Aging, and they receive annual donations from the towns of Massena and Louisville. But donations are what help fund the meals, Ms. Fregoe said, and through the annual fundraisers like the telethon and spaghetti dinner that kicks off Massena Meals on Wheels Week the board is able to meet its budget.

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