Volunteers shop for groceries for senior citizens during pandemic

Wearing a mask and gloves, Mike Wilkens spent Thursday morning food shopping--not for himself but for a senior citizen who felt unsafe making the trip to the store herself because of COVID-19.

Wilkens, 25, would typically be home studying for the MCAT exam but his test was postponed. Now he is using the extra time to help others.

"If I can help them out and alleviate the tension in the air right now, that's enough for me," Wilkens said.

He is one of nearly 80 volunteers shopping for seniors in Nassau County. Legislator Josh Lafazan started the program this week after worrying about his own grandparents and how they'd provide for themselves during a quarantine. Thousands of seniors in his district are also impacted.

"The senior calls the shopper with their shopping list, the shopper goes to the supermarket, buys the items, calls the senior with the cost, the senior either puts a check or cash in the mailbox and the shopper drops off the items at the front door and picks up the money," he said.

Wilkens, who considers himself a seasoned shopper, said the supermarket is stressful for anyone these days.

"There are lines to only go one direction, they were empty shelves, people scrambling," he said. "It was tough."

Lafazan's office supplies the gloves and masks for volunteers. He said he hopes the program catches on throughout the county and the state.


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