A hot meal, a warm smile and a touch of holiday cheer is how nearly 22,000 seniors were greeted this past holiday during DTE Energy’s eighth annual Holiday Meals on Wheels program.

What once began as a focused effort in Detroit serving 5,000 homebound and vulnerable citizens throughout Detroit, Hamtramck, Harper Woods, Highland Park and the five Grosse Pointe neighborhoods has since evolved and expanded into a full-force effort across the state.

Unlike the regular Meals on Wheels program that is state and federally funded, the Holiday Meals on Wheels program is primarily supported through corporate, philanthropic and community donations and fundraising efforts. These donations provide meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Labor Day holidays.

In 2010, the DTE Energy Foundation stepped up and provided its first grant to the Detroit Area Agency on Aging to ensure the 1,000 waitlisted Detroit-area seniors were greeted with a friendly face and warm meal on Christmas Day. Since then, we’ve expanded this program to reach an additional 20 communities throughout Michigan, from the Upper Peninsula, to Muskegon, Ann Arbor, Monroe and the thumb areas. Nearly 600 employees, their friends and family look forward to volunteering each year, and take hours out of their holidays to pack, deliver and serve meals to participants who are often isolated in our communities.

“The DTE Energy Foundation is proud to bring nearly 22,000 meals to our seniors, who appreciate the generosity of companies and employee volunteers such as ours to get a hot meal during the holidays,” said Nancy Moody, vice president, DTE Energy. “The Holiday Meals on Wheels program has become a tradition for more than 600 of our employees, their families and friends, and we are so appreciative of the time they give to spread holiday cheer.”