Volunteer Spotlight

42 years of service: Mobile Meals of Spartanburg Volunteer Cherishes the Memories
By Chris Lavender
Dave Collins always looked forward to delivering meals to homebound and frail residents along his route in Spartanburg County as part of
his weekly routine. For Collins, it was a ministry.
After moving from Boston to Spartanburg in 1966 with his wife Jean, he got involved in the community. Raising a family, he wanted to do more to serve
others. In 1982, he began delivering meals in Roebuck and Walnut Grove for Mobile Meals of Spartanburg. He didn’t realize it would be part of his life for the next 42 years. Now 82, Collins reluctantly stopped volunteering due to health reasons. What he’s going to miss most are the people.
“I will miss seeing all the people,” Collins said.  It was common for him to spend time at each stop sharing stories about how family members were doing. Collins even helped one man on his delivery route take o+ or put on his socks from time to time.  Those personal connections really mattered.
When Collins retired from work in 2009, his wife joined him on the delivery route. They enjoyed spending time together and seeing joy on people’s faces when they arrived. If they were short a meal, Collins wouldn’t hesitate to buy a meal from a nearby restaurant and deliver it not wanting anyone to go hungry.  “You ,find out quick delivering meals you learn a lot about the neighborhood you are delivering to,” Collins said. “You really get to know the people. It is about taking care of people.”
For the ,first 15 years, Collins picked up meals at a Roebuck location and then made his delivery run. Later, he would pick up meals at the Mobile Meals of Spartanburg location at 419 E. Main St.
He’s watched the organization grow over four decades. Even the way the meals are packaged has changed. The ,first meals he delivered were in aluminum trays covered with cardboard. Mobile Meals of Spartanburg now delivers meals — more than 1,300 each day — that are in sealed wrapped containers. It also didn’t matter what weather conditions were like, the meals were always delivered on schedule.

Over the years, Collins delivered meals to multiple generations. He also brought his grandchildren and great-grandchildren with him on delivery routes.
Collins created a map of his delivery route and used push pins to mark his different stops through the years. He ,figured that since he started delivering meals he had served about 250 people.  He delivered up to 21 meals on his 42-mile route at his peak. One year, Collins loaded up his Honda Civic with 21 meals and Poinsettias for Christmas. He wasn’t sure if it would all fit. In recent years, his route had nine stops.

Collins became familiar with the roads and landscape. With growth, new housing started popping up in recent years along his route. In some cases, Collins started delivering in those new neighborhoods he had previously watched from afar. It also took time getting used to the food on the delivery runs. Being from Boston, he wasn’t accustomed to Southern food. Fried okra, wasn’t his favorite.
Collins said he feels fortunate to have served and it will take time to adjust to his new routine. Collins hasn’t ruled out helping on occasion, but he’s going to step back for at least a while. He just didn’t want to be on the regular weekly schedule since he’s unsure about his health moving forward. Collins said he will always cherish the moments he spent with others.
“People have asked me what I got out of it,” Collins said. “It was interesting, all the people you meet. When you are asked to serve, you serve. They become family. I didn’t realize all the connections I made.”