Dixie Dent of Alma loves her brood of porch pooches. Lounging on her screened-in deck, the canines boisterously announce the arrival of anyone who dares to approach the porch.

Susie Hamilton of Waxahachie is quick to ask for a hug. Though wheelchair bound, this feisty senior citizen doesn’t let it slow down her enthusiasm. Those who know her can count on her request for an embrace each time they knock at her door.

Ray and Georgia Cavender of Midlothian love to talk about the family of tortoises that took up residency at the neighboring home. 

Not just any turtle, mind you, but a large-scale land dweller, perhaps an Aldabra or Culcata species that has been reported to live for hundreds of years.

What do these four Ellis County residents have in common? They’re all Meals-on-Wheels clients who enjoy living independent lives.

Thanks to the dedication of the volunteers and their daily visits, along with the generosity of donors, more than 700 Meals-on-Wheels clients in Johnson and Ellis Counties continue to benefit from services.

“Volunteers are essential for our program to be successful,” said Lisa Gordon, Meals-on-Wheels volunteer coordinator. “Without the ongoing dedication of volunteers, we would not be able to impact the lives of the elderly, disabled and their families.”   

During the organization’s month-long “March for Meals” campaign, Meals-on-Wheels is celebrating not only those they serve, but the volunteers and the invaluable service they provide.

“We continue to need additional volunteers to deliver meals throughout the county,” Gordon said. “Part of our campaign is to raise more awareness about senior hunger, recruit more volunteers and raise more money.”

There are several events during the month to become involved with Meals-on-Wheels.

Local mayors and elected officials are set to deliver next week on Wednesday, March 23, where each will be delivering in their respective communities.

To end the month-long celebration, Meals-on-Wheels will host its annual benefit, “Remember When…a Fabulous ’40s Fling,” on Saturday, March 26.

The event presented by Waxahachie Autoplex will be an evening of big band sounds, swing dancing, dinner and entertainment at the Texas Motorplex located between Waxahachie and Ennis and beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets are $100 each, or tables for $1,000. Sponsorships are also available at varying levels.

“We are excited about our upcoming benefit in celebrating those we serve — the ‘greatest generation’ as well as our volunteers,” said Amy Jackson, director of development. “All monies raised will directly benefit those we serve in our Ellis County communities, plus it’s a great party.”

Meals-on-Wheels is a community benefit organization serving the homebound elderly and disabled residents throughout Johnson and Ellis Counties.

For more information about the “March For Meals” events or about Meals-on-Wheels services, contact Meals-on-Wheels at 972-351-9943 and online at www.servingthechildrenofyesterday.org.

For more information on the 2011 “March For Meals” campaign, contact Meals on Wheels Association of America at www.mowaa.org.