Happy Holidays to everyone! I love this season, when we are reminded to be kind and giving to one another. And although November brought a giant speed-bump for us when our 1998 Meals on Wheels van was stolen, our community’s response has been one of kindness, consideration, and support. We are eternally thankful for our community’s investment in our agency, and I wanted to offer an update on our van situation.

We believe the van was stolen during the late night hours of November 11. The stolen van was our backup van, typically used a few times a week, primarily for food pickups at Second Harvest and filling in when one of three daily-used vans is out of commission. Although not needed for daily service, the van nevertheless provides vital service for our program and contains specialized coolers in addition to an oven.

As sad and disappointed as we were to discover that the van was missing, we know we have many reasons to be grateful:
• None of our diners, volunteers, or staff were hurt in the theft.
• Both home delivery and senior dining center service continued without interruption.
• Our community has responded with kind words, offers for temporary loans of vehicles, and lots of encouragement.

At the time of this writing on November 25, I have a bit of news to share. Four days ago, we learned that our van was found in Seattle, and it is currently parked at an impound lot. What we don’t yet know is if the van is salvageable. Our insurance adjuster is working to learn if our equipment is still in the van, if the van can be started, and if the van is in drivable condition. We don’t yet know any of the circumstances of how the van was found.

Like young children who are giddy in anticipation of opening gifts, our staff is nervous and excited to learn more. We’re hopeful that the van will come home intact, needing only minor repair, but we’re also apprehensive that its damages may render it no longer functional, requiring replacement. Like most non-profits, our year-end push is always to secure funds for our program. We’d much rather dedicate our December gifts to providing meals than to investing in a new van we didn’t need.

Regardless of the outcome of The Case of the Missing Van, we’re very happy to be part of the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas. We’ve been made to feel valued and loved by our clients, our donors, and our community, which is a pretty amazing Christmas gift. I hope you all enjoy your holidays and I want you to know how much we value every client, every volunteer and staff, and every supporter! Thank you, and Holly Jolly Holidays to you!

Kristi Thien
Nutrition Services Director

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