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Walmart plays Santa for Council on Aging

Meals on Wheels volunteers Betts Smith, left, and Arnold Hammack, center, deliver a hot meal to Colista Bridges, right, and her niece Ann Hill on Nov. 15, 2012, in Albany. On Dec. 14, 2012, Walmart Foundation announced that SOWEGA Council on Aging would receive a $10,000 grant. The organization says it will be used to help fund Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels volunteers Betts Smith, left, and Arnold Hammack, center, deliver a hot meal to Colista Bridges, right, and her niece Ann Hill on Nov. 15, 2012, in Albany. On Dec. 14, 2012, Walmart Foundation announced that SOWEGA Council on Aging would receive a $10,000 grant. The organization says it will be used to help fund Meals on Wheels.

ALBANY, Ga. -- The world's largest retailer just made Christmas for Southwest Georgia senior citizens a little merrier.

Bentonville, Ark-based Walmart, on the second day of its "12 Days of Giving" holiday campaign, announced Friday it had awarded $10,000 each to 10 nonprofits that help senior citizens, including Albany's SOWEGA Council on Aging. A council official said Friday the agency plans to use the money to help fund its Meals on Wheels program.

"To receive such a gift is a blessing anytime, but it's even moreso during the holiday season," Council on Aging Development Director Izzie Sadler said. "We plan to use the funds to help finance our Meals on Wheels program, which delivers 186,000 meals a year and climbing. It looks like we're going to surpass 200,000 this year.

"This money will help us meet a tremendous need in the community, and it's just such a wonderful surprise."

Sadler said a SOWEGA Council on Aging staffer saw the grant giveaway on Walmart's Facebook page and filled out an application.

Walmart plans to award a total of $1.5 million during its campaign to 140 organizations across the country that are providing basic needs to deserving recipients.

"More than 3.6 million adults age 65 and over live below the poverty line," Walmart Foundation President Sylvia Mathews said in a release announcing Friday's grant recipients. "Through these grants, we want to support local organizations who are helping seniors live more fulfilled and stable lives and also say 'thank you' for all the wisdom and experience they've contributed."

Walmart received 21,677 nominations on its Facebook page for deserving nonprofits in communities across the nation. Submissions were initially reviewed by Walmart associates from across the company, and winners were selected by a panel from the Walmart Foundation.

Other $10,000 grant winners announced Friday included the East Baton Rouge (La.) Council on Aging, the HeartLand Hands Food Pantry (Southaven, Miss.), Helping Hands of (Las) Vegas Valley, ITNRacine (Wis.) County, Meals for the Elderly (San Angelo, Texas), Mobile Meals Ministry (Kannapolis, N.C.), Meals on Wheels Palm Beaches (Fla.), Eliza Huntington Home (Norwich, Conn.) and Hannibal (Mo.) Senior Nutrition Center.