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Nonprofits, service organizations brace for rising gas prices

Many organizations rely on their volunteers not only for their time and help, but sometimes for their personal cars and gas money, too.

LOVELAND, Colo. — The price of a gallon of gas keeps climbing.

According to AAA, Colorado’s average was $3.91 Wednesday, up nearly 10 cents from the day before, and up 50 cents in a week.

It's becoming a growing burden for many nonprofits and service organizations, which rely on their volunteers not only for their time and help, but sometimes for their personal cars and gas money, too.

“Not only are they donating their time -- half an hour to a few hours a day -- but they're also driving their own cars,” said Jeff Pomranka, Executive Director of Meals on Wheels of Loveland and Berthoud.

“So they’re putting their own gas into it, paying their own insurance, putting the wear and tear on their cars," he said.

Pomranka said he appreciates his generous volunteers. But as gas creeps closer to $4 a gallon, he said he does have some concerns.

“We'll see how this happens,” he said. “We didn't know how it was until we lived through a pandemic. We don't know what it’s going to be like to live through $5, $6 per gallon gas prices. We'll figure it out.”

“What else is there to do?" he said. "The people we serve rely on the food so much.”

Pomranka said the organization serves about 320 people, with volunteers covering about 30 routes. Some routes are short, staying within one neighborhood. Others are much longer – with some volunteers driving dozens of miles to deliver meals.

“We have a route that’s probably closing in on 30 miles,” he said. “To put that many miles on your car, every single week, just to help an organization and people we serve – is tremendous.”

Patty Glasgow has volunteered for Meals on Wheels for the past 15 years. Her current route is pretty short, and the gas costs are not yet a burden.

“The good news about being retired, like I am and my husband [is], we don't have long drives to work,” she said. “If we drive a long ways to a place, it's a choice.”

And her choice is to continue delivering meals. 

It's volunteer work she loves.

“This is such a privilege for me to be able to help people who can’t get out on their own to grocery shop, that can’t cook on their own, they’re basically homebound – and I’m not,” she said. “It’s just my opportunity to share my good fortune with other people. I feel fortunate.”

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