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Rise in gas prices could impact Mid-Michigan charities, nonprofits

Rise in gas prices could impact Mid-Michigan charities, nonprofits
Published: Mar. 8, 2022 at 10:18 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2022 at 10:44 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Gas prices hit a staggering $4.25 in Lansing.

There are stories about increases in shipping and delivery costs due to gas prices, but what about charitable organizations that do things like food delivery or rides to the hospital? While the Tri-County Office on Aging does offer some reimbursement, most of those costs will come out of the volunteer’s pocket.

One Meals on Wheels volunteers believes some of their drivers will discontinue their services due to the rise in costs.

“It’s becoming more challenging for volunteers who may not have the resources to keep putting gas in their car for a daily hour of deliveries,” said Lou Ebaugh.

Ebaugh has been a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for eight years. He said that while he has the income to sustain hours of deliveries with inflated gas prices, he knows not everybody is in the same position.

Related: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer calls to suspend federal gas tax

“We’re getting it done, but some may choose with the rising prices, they may have to choose out of necessity, ‘I just can’t do this,’” Ebaugh said.

However, he remains faithful. He said it’s not just about delivering meals, but making sure the recipient is OK. He recalled one experience which brought the message home.

“I had an elderly lady who had the TV on. She had her door open, but the screen door was locked. So, of course, I knocked and announced myself and I could hear this cry in the background,” Ebaugh said. “I couldn’t hear what she was saying because the TV was so loud.”

After calling his managers to let them know he wasn’t able to make contact, he drove down the street to another delivery.

“I decided to come back,” Ebaugh said. “And this person, an elderly lady, popped her head around the chair and she was on the floor. She had been there for 24 hours.”

Ebaugh immediately called to get the woman help.

“I’ve never forgotten the lesson about being there at the most opportune time and not realizing what this could turn into,” Ebaugh recalled.

He’s still passionate about driving his Chevy pickup all around Mid-Michigan to ensure the wellbeing of his recipients -- even at $4.25 a gallon.

“This really is a labor of love and a labor of service. When you bring your daily meal, you’ve got to be able to meet these people and perhaps make a difference besides just handing them a meal,” Ebaugh concluded.

Ebaugh and his wife both volunteer for Meals on Wheels. They’re urging anyone who is willing to help to contact the Tri-County Office on Aging.

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