A volunteer group in Grove City is delivering groceries and prescription medicine to seniors who might be hesitant or unable to leave home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Grove City Senior Support is a grassroots effort to reach out to a population that is among the most vulnerable to developing symptoms if exposed to the coronavirus, said Shawn Levy, who started the project March 19 when he began putting the word out on social media seeking volunteers.
By March 24, a team of volunteers was in place to run errands for seniors, said Meghan McCoy, who was one of the first to sign up to help.
The roster now includes 32 volunteers, she said.
Seniors are invited to call 614-312-8874 to request the service.
“It’s a prepaid cellphone we purchased for the project,” Levy said.
McCoy, who is a stay-at-home mom, handles the calls.
“When we get a call from a senior looking for assistance, I put out a text message to our volunteers,” she said. “Whoever is able to respond first gets the assignment. I’ll give them the senior citizen’s contact information, then they get ahold of them and set up the details for the errand.”
The service is cash only and volunteers make arrangements with the senior regarding payment for the groceries, Levy said.
“Some volunteers will go ahead and pay for the groceries when they buy them, then collect the money from the seniors when they make the delivery,” he said. “Others arrange to get the money for the purchases before they go to the store.”
Before the support line began operating, McCoy said, she contacted Grove City leaders “to let them know we were here.
“We wanted them to know this was an honest effort to try to help people in the community,” she said.
The service is offered free of charge, McCoy said.
“We won’t accept tips of any kind,” she said.
“The main thing is to let seniors know there’s an option out there for them if they worry about making a trip to the grocery store,” Levy said.
“Most people are asking us to shop for groceries for them or make a pharmacy run,” McCoy said. “We did have one woman who asked us to have someone go out and get some cigarettes for her.”
Whatever they need, Grove City Senior Support is there for them, she said.
Through the first four weeks of the project, 10 people have called the support line with 15 requests, McCoy said.
“We’re still not super-busy,” she said. “We contacted local senior centers and nursing homes to let them know we’ve available. We’re hoping that as more people find out about us, they’ll reach out and give us a call.”
The group does not have its own social-media page, but “we’re all posting our flyer on our own individual social media and on the Grove City Moms Facebook page," she said.
“There’s a team of volunteers ready to help,” Levy said. “The one way we’ll all get through this crisis is if we’re helping each other.”
The Grove City Senior Support team is committed to continuing its project as long as the pandemic continues, he said.
Valerie Shanyfelt has gone out on several of the runs.
“It’s been really rewarding,” she said. “The people are really thankful that someone is able to go out and buy their groceries for them.
“One gentleman I’ve helped really isn’t very mobile. He uses a walker so it’s really difficult for him to get out and about.”
The most rewarding part for her is getting the chance to talk with the seniors she helps, Shanyfelt said.
“You get the chance to make a connection with someone you wouldn’t have met otherwise,” she said.