Emma Escott is a bright and talkative girl. She walks into a room of strangers and begins telling everyone about her cats, two part Maine Coons who love to sleep in her bed and leave hair everywhere.

The outgoing 8-year-old is one of Red Cross’ dedicated Meals on Wheels volunteers in Palmerston North.

She began her humanitarian career five years ago when her grandpa, Gil Escott, was looking after her and asked if she’d like to join him on a run.

She’s been doing it ever since and brings joy to everyone she visits. She also enjoys some of the perks though.

“On the run, there’s two houses on one street so Grandpa and I do one each and the lady gives me chocolates,” she says grinning cheekily.

Of course, now that Emma is in school she can only accompany Gil during the holidays but still manages to fit it in.

“Last time I did it, my grandpa’s birthday was coming up so I kept telling people about that.”

As well as making a difference in the community, the deliveries have become a bonding experience between grandfather and granddaughter.

“It’s just her and me together, although I don’t get much chance to chat,” Gil says nodding his head toward Emma who quickly jumps in and takes over the conversation.

The pair are keen to spread the word about volunteering and see more people added to the Meals on Wheels roster and Gil says he often taps his mates on the shoulder asking them to join up.

“I’m surprised that there are so many people out there who could be doing this who aren’t.”

How to help

Our Meals on Wheels service helps people living at home by providing them with a healthy meal every day. New Zealand Red Cross volunteers like Garry deliver around 620,000 meals a year - that's nearly 12,000 every week.

Find out more about volunteering or apply online to become a Meals on Wheels driver.