Columbia Senior Center raising money for new van

Columbia Senior Center Coordinator Pat Stumpf (second from left) stands by the old van with driver Larry Lutker (far left) and senior center attendees Marilyn Miller (center), Ellen Killingsworth (second from right) and Alvira Miller (far right). (Robyn Dexter photo)

The Columbia Senior Center hopes to get things rolling on a new van fund as the coordinator seeks to replace its existing method of meal transportation.

Senior center coordinator Pat Stumpf said they have had their van since 1998, and years of constant use and heavy food loads have taken their toll on the Ford F-350.

“It has 190,000 miles on it and it’s served more than 118,000 home delivery meals,” Stumpf said. “That’s more than 7,000 meals a year.”

The van is a huge asset to the senior center because not only does it deliver meals, it is also used to transport senior citizens to appointments and other errands they may need help with.

Stumpf said since the senior center is only open five hours a day, they are limited in the services they can provide.

She hopes the center will have a new van by the end of the year and plans to help make that happen with a letter campaign.

“In 1998, money was flowing more freely, and we were able to raise the funds in three weeks,” she said. “I don’t expect that to happen this time, though.”

The senior center will need to raise more than $30,000 to make the hope of a new van reality.

“It’s had a lot of repairs just to keep it going,” Stumpf said. “We’ve put a lot of money into it already.”

The senior center has a back-up, seven-person Chrysler van they’ve used since 2000, but it cannot handle the loads of food the other van can.

“(The Chrysler) is a passenger van and we’ve been very cautious of the miles we put on it,” Stumpf said. “The little one can’t endure what the big van takes.”

The center currently has just more than $3,000 in the new van fund so far from fundraisers, auctions and other events they’ve held.

Stumpf plans to send out letters at the beginning of February to kick off the campaign.

“Once we raise the money and buy the van, it becomes the property of Western Egyptian agency,” she said. “Money has been tremendously tight around here.”

Stumpf said she hopes the Columbia community will be as involved in this campaign as they were in 1998.

“But money is different today than it was in ’98,” she said.

Letters will go out to all city residents, along with bigger businesses in the area that might able to contribute to the fund.

She decided to hold off on the campaign until after the holidays because of all the pressure the holiday season brings in terms of money.

Stumpf said the City of Columbia has been very good to the senior center, located inside City Hall, and has contributed significantly when they have a need.

“They always take care of us,” she said.

Once the money is raised, Stumpf said all contributors will be printed in a thank you advertisement.

Donations can be made to the Columbia Senior Center, with a notation for “new van fund.”

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