Volunteers key to keeping the wheels turning
FIRING up the oven before the sun rises is all in a days' work for the volunteers at Meals on Wheels in Proserpine who this week welcomed a grant that would, quite literally, help them keep the wheels turning.
Meals on Wheels co-ordinator Helen Maynard-Turner said the service was "more than just delivering meals".
She said it was a place where the close-knit network of 45 volunteers could enjoy a laugh as well as a source of company for those who received the meals.
With a delivery service from Midge Point to Jubilee Pocket, it is also a vital community service that makes sure the vulnerable, elderly and those needing assistance don't go hungry.
The Proserpine Meals on Wheels deliver 45 to 50 meals a week and clock up hundreds of kilometres along the way.
While the organisation fundraises to keep the cost of travel as low as possible, petrol costs mean a lot of money is channelled into keeping the cars going.
However, thanks to a grant from the Federal Government, the load is now a little lighter.
Member for Dawson George Christensen this week announced the service would receive $2000 to assist with the running of their car.
Ms Maynard-Turner said the grant would "help greatly" to keep the wheels turning on the deliveries.
"When this little car leaves here and goes out to North Gregory and Strathdickie and then down to Jubilee Pocket, it's about an 80km round trip," she said.
"It will help to keep this little girl on the road because nothing comes cheap as we know."
The announcement of the grant is timed perfectly to celebrate National Volunteer Week.
Ms Maynard-Turner said it was the group of dedicated volunteers who lit up the kitchen with laughter that were the reason deliveries could continue.
Among these volunteers are Bev and Robert 'Bully' Bullock who have been lending a hand at Meals on Wheels for a decade.
While Mr Bullock said he "got stuck here himself" when his wife started volunteering, the couple both looked forward to the camaraderie that came from volunteering.
The "family" at Meals on Wheels in Proserpine was also part of the reason Christine Auld volunteered.
"I don't work, and I was bored sitting at home and I'm a giver," she said.
"I think (reason I volunteer) is the interaction, and you feel good about giving your time."
"We're like family."
Ms Maynard-Turner thanked the community for their support in helping Meals on Wheels.
She gave a special shout-out to her dedicated team of volunteers.
"We wouldn't have a service is it wasn't for them," she said.
Proserpine Historical Museum and Whitsunday Probus Club also received government grants this week for computers and software.