By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

“Todd’s an angel. You’ve probably noticed his halo,” Adam Wiktorek, a Meals on Wheels driver, says about Todd Putnam, another volunteer, while the two men wait for food to arrive at the Keizer Elks Lodge.

Both Wiktorek and Putnam have been delivering food to people in Keizer through Meals on Wheels for so long that they no longer count the years.

Putnam’s mom used to rely on Meals on Wheels volunteers to get fed.

“Because someone was delivering meals to her I thought I’d get involved,” Putnam said. “That’s how I started. That’s probably about 15 years ago, I’m guessing. Now that we’re retired, it get us out of the house and gives us something to do. It keeps us busy.”

Wiktorek saw volunteers deliver meals to his neighbors back in the 1990s when one day he thought he’d see what the program was all about. He filled out an application to become a driver, thinking he would volunteer for about a month.

“The thing is they never fire anybody,” Wiktorek joked. “I think we all love it. I look forward to it.”

Along with serving meals, volunteers are also there for people when they need them most.

Wiktorek was delivering food to a retired postal worker in Keizer who’d had a stroke when he found the man on the ground in the garage. He’d been laying there all morning. Wiktorek called 911, saving the man’s life.

“It’s a great honor to do this and help our people,” Wiktorek said.

Volunteers gather Monday through Friday beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Keizer Elks Lodge to pick up food for their routes. On a typical day, 70 meals are delivered through seven routes.

All of the cooking is done at Center 50 plus in Salem.

Steve Morton, the kitchen director, has a team of 10 people, half of which are chefs.

“We’re always looking for drivers,” Morton said. “We’re coming out of probably our driest recruiting time of year.”

To volunteer with Meals on Wheels, call 503-364-2856, visit marionpolkfoodshare.org/programs/meals-on-wheels/driver or pick up an application at the Keizer Elks Lodge.