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Student creates network of 'shopping angels' to help the elderly buy groceries during epidemic

Jayde Powell, a pre-med student from Nevada, found an inventive way to help the elderly during the coronavirus outbreak. Her movement is now national.

Student creates network of 'shopping angels' to help the elderly buy groceries during epidemic
Image Source: SDI Productions / Getty Images

As the coronavirus epidemic worsens across the United States, it is those with compromised immune systems who are most at risk. This includes very young children and the elderly. Due to this, thousands of senior citizens have been confined to their households and nursing homes, afraid to step outside in fear of contracting the illness. This means they may be running low on essentials like medication and groceries. Those who do choose to venture out may be confronted with crowds of people panic buying and resorting to violence in order to grab the last roll of toilet paper on a supermarket shelf. In order to help the elderly during this public health crisis, a pre-med student from Nevada has stepped up to do her part, CNN reports.



Jayde Powell is a pre-med student at the University of Nevada in Reno. A few weeks ago, she had the brilliant idea to create a network of "shopping angels" who would help the elderly complete their grocery runs during the coronavirus epidemic. The idea came to her when she was speaking with her mother, who told her she had rung up a few elderly neighbors to find out if they needed anything as public spaces began to shut down. Now a "shopping angel" herself, Jayde has teamed up with dozens of volunteers across states to lend a helping hand. The movement has since gone national.



She stated in an interview with CNN, "As a pre-med student, I know that people who are older or people who have heart, lung, or immune conditions are especially at risk for contracting the virus." Therefore, she began her project by enlisting the help of 20 members of her medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon. As they began helping more and more folks, the need for more volunteers became apparent. She thus reached out to even more classmates to "recruit" them. She also turned to social media to put out a call for even more volunteers. Now, the project is active across several states and has hundreds of volunteers.



"It is really quite astonishing to me," the pre-med student said. "I woke up this morning to 20 voicemails and 56 emails. And I've got people in Connecticut, Long Island, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Arizona that want to volunteer." Ever since the project began on March 13, Jayde has been connecting volunteers with those in need through phone calls, email, and Facebook. Some senior citizens will hand volunteers a shopping list, budget, and money to cover the purchase. Other "clients," however, will choose to buy their groceries online and a shopping angel will simply go pick them up and deliver them.



In addition to this, Jayde has recognized that some senior citizens live under poverty and are not able to afford the groceries they desperately need. She doesn't want the elderly to be hesitant to reach out to them due to budget restrictions. "We don't want money to be a deterrent," she stated. "If you cannot afford toilet paper or something like that, you're still to reach out to us." With this in mind, she has established a GoFundMe fundraiser in order to collect money for those who may not be able to afford the essentials. Further to this, Anderson Dairy, a dairy company based in Las Vegas, has contacted Jayde to let her know they are interested in donating their products.



As for those worried about whether these shopping angels might spread the disease while completing a delivery, Jayde makes sure her volunteers take all the necessary precautions. All volunteers are required to wear masks and gloves during transportation, pickup, and delivery. Furthermore, shopping angels are not allowed to go inside a client's home during delivery so as to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. Jayde affirmed, "We're doing this to try and reach out to people who might feel that they are just completely alone in this situation." If you would like to get involved with the shopping angels project, click here.



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