Local News

High gas prices take toll on charity workers

Posted August 7, 2008 5:46 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2008 5:56 p.m. EDT

— High gas prices are taking a toll on charity workers, who often use their own vehicles.

Compared to corporate workers who are reimbursed more than 58 cents per mile, charity workers can only be reimbursed 14 cents a mile under federal law.

“I think it’s ridiculous really,” said JoAnn Hardee, a Meals on Wheels volunteer for the past 30 years.

Hardee and her husband, Robert, deliver meals in their private vehicle to the elderly and needy in Wake County. Sometimes her trips can take her up to 60 miles.

“When the gas prices have gone up like they have, a lot of people will just quit volunteering because they can’t afford it,” Hardee said.

Hardee said she will be filing for a tax deduction on her mileage this year.

Wake County Meals on Wheels Executive Director Alan Winstead said the current reimbursement is a concern. Winstead said he worries people may stop volunteering if gas prices stay high and the reimbursement rate stays low.

“They bring their own vehicles, their own gas, their own maintenance,” Winstead said.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole has co-sponsored a bill to raise the charity mileage deduction to just over 40 cents a mile. U.S. Sen. Richard Burr said he will work with Dole to pass the new rate into law.