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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 campaign 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 telethon on WMSA, 1340 AM, 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, Mr. Bogdan said.

“This year, businesses came through with donations and personal donations. The cash donations got it started,” he said.

The goal originally was $15,000 this year, but Mr. Bogdan said it was bumped up to cover budget shortfalls.

“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.”

Like Mr. Bogdan, she stressed the importance of Friday’s radiothon, noting the agency’s subsidy runs out this month, leaving it to cover basic operating costs, including food, lights and heat, before the subsidy is renewed in January. The agency is delivering 92 meals, with two more starting on Monday, according to Ms. Fregoe. Summer numbers were in the high 70s. Meals were delivered to 105 last winter.

Massena Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver hot 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, the agency had delivered more than 14,000 meals so far this year.

Their service allows recipients to stay in their 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 receives annual donations from the towns of Massena and Louisville. But donations help fund the meals, Ms. Fregoe said, and through the annual fundraisers like the radiothon and spaghetti dinner that kicks off Massena Meals on Wheels Week, the board is able to meet its budget.

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