Help on the way: Senior grocery service up and running, aid coming for families in Burrillville

Linda Reynolds checks the Volunteer Driver ID of Thomas Tatro. The program, which offers rides to the town's older residents, launched last month.

BURRILLVILLE– A small army of volunteers sits waiting to help older residents in town in need of food and other basic necessities.

Soon, they’ll also provide transportation and meal delivery to children and families in need of help.

It’s a charitable effort to protect Burrillville’s most vulnerable residents in a time when the town’s normal support system has been disrupted by COVID 19.

“The emergency grocery delivery program is volunteer program initiated by the town,” explained Parks and Recreation Director Andrea Hall. “Volunteers are town employees and residents who want to help their neighbors.”

The delivery service is available to town residents age 60 and older who are unable to get to the store for basic necessities. Volunteers will pick up prescriptions at CVS in Pascoag, and food and other needed items at Lil General and IGA.

“We currently have 23 volunteers on standby, excited and ready to help,” Hall said.

Those in need of the service are instructed to call (401) 710-7429 and leave a message with their contact information. Residents are also invited to call the number if they need assistance placing an online order of goods.

Hall will field all calls and answer resident questions.

Each housing complex in town has a specific day when orders are delivered, with the group focusing on Bradford Court on Monday; Ashton Court on Wednesday and Stillwater Heights on Friday. Private homes are serviced on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Orders must be submitted by 10 a.m. on the delivery day for same day service.

Residents submit their order and money in a sealed envelope to the main office of their complex, or will meet a volunteer at a designated spot at 10 a.m.  A volunteer will then deliver the orders to the stores to be filled.

Around noon each day, the filled orders will be picked up for delivery to homes.

“The schedule is flexible and there are plenty of volunteers ready to help if groceries are needed on a non-scheduled day,” Hall explained.

Lil General staff has stepped up to help with the program, and will pull orders, fill bags, and put change and receipt in an envelope. Employees there will also call residents if an item they’ve requested is out of stock to see if they can offer a substitute.

If it is an order from IGA or pickup from CVS, volunteers will do the shopping at the store, or utilize the drive thru for prescriptions. Volunteers are provided gloves, and IGA has offered to allow a special time once per week for shopping if they’d like to minimize contact with others.

Hall said so far, she’s received calls with questions about the program, but no one has taken advantage of the offer. Many seniors, she said, were gathering information should the need arise

The volunteer group is also working on services to meet the needs of children and families in town who have transportation issues that prevent them from obtaining the free lunch currently offered at Callahan Elementary School, or from getting to the store.

“When school is in session there are 50 students in the Burrillville Weekend Snack Pack Program who receive a weekly bag of food to cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks over the weekend,” Hall said. “We are working with the school nurses to reach these families and will deliver their Snack Packs if needed.”

With the help of Meals on Wheels and the Rhode Island Food Bank, the volunteers will also soon be available to deliver meals to those 60 and older, and to children in need. Non-perishable foods and snacks will be passed on to families as they are available.

Residents interested in volunteering, or who need help can call (401) 710-7429 and leave a message with their name and contact information.  Residents who would like to donate non-perishable items are asked to do the same.

Like so many events and gatherings planned for the upcoming months, the Lunch & Learn event scheduled for May by Burrillville Aging Stronger has been cancelled. But the organization is still offering rides to older residents who need to go to things such as doctor’s appointments.

To schedule a ride, residents should call (401) 441-5240.

It is all part of an effort by town residents to look out for one another in a time of change and uncertainty.

“The outpouring of people willing to help has been amazing,” Hall said. “It is absolutely heartwarming to see so many, so willing to be kind.”

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