(WBIR-KNOXVILLE) Connecting Hearts kicked off Saturday morning.
The WBIR Channel 10 crew spread out at Kroger's across Knoxville to sign up volunteers and take grocery donations. The program is a partnership between WBIR, Mobile Meals and Second Harvest.
From Bearden to Cedar Bluff and Fountain City to Powell, the donations poured in along with volunteers.
"I came purposely to sign up for this," said Bo Alexander.
As a respiratory therapist, Alexander has seen first-hand the impact a home visit can make.
"I used to into homes and check their oxygen, check their vital signs," Alexander said, "It just meant a lot I could tell they had prepared for my visit and it's unfortunate how many people don't have any family or close friends so I'm glad to be a part of it."
Connecting Hearts pairs local volunteers with at-risk seniors in the community with a weekly visit and grocery delivery. Our goal is to find volunteers while collecting special food items for seniors.
"Came especially for this," said Becky Childers.
She saw the lasting effects a visit could bring when her mother benefited from food delivery.
"She would always tell me the name of the volunteer that day that came to her and what they brought to eat," Childers said, "And she would always say it's a shame they can't stay long. I knew how much this program would mean to seniors."
She wasn't the only one from her home who jumped at the opportunity to help.
"I told my husband I wanted to come sign up and I was really surprised when he said I want to sign up to if they have any men to call on, so we both signed up today," said Childers.
Providing food to those in need is something the city of Knoxville is hoping will catch on in neighborhoods all over.
"Hunger awareness is something that is hard to relate to when you have food on your table," Brian Blackmon with the Department of Sustainability said, "But there is a large population out there of home-bound seniors and residents that have very little family support and network to provide that assistance when they are struggling to feed their families."
It's an effort that starts with one person's commitment to help another and sometimes the best gift is simply companionship.
"That's the only family they are seeing, support they are getting. Without programs like that those, people may not be able to feed themselves," said Blackmon.
Food collection has totaled 4 full pallets, with each weighing close to 400 pounds a piece.
Thirty-one volunteers signed 6-month commitments during our application process.
To learn how to become a Connecting Hearts volunteer, click here.