LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — When 20-year-old Leeat Newman and her 19-year-old sister Kayla came home after their college classes were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, they wanted to help those most at risk.
With that in mind, the sisters and a few friends started a group called Shopping Helpers LA. The program pairs a college-aged volunteer with a senior or someone who is immunocompromised to take care of their grocery shopping needs — at no charge.
“We decided why not step up,” Kayla said. “It doesn’t have to be a big organization that does it, we can just start, two sisters at our house, making calls, spreading the word.”
And the word spread — fast.
The group that started with a small group of friends now has more than 300 volunteers who handle more than 100 requests per day across the city of Los Angeles.
“They’re usually very desperate,” Leeat said. “They really need our help, and they’re so happy to know that a service like ours exists so they can use it.”
People submit information such as their preferred stores, the items needed and when they need them by phone or online, and volunteers follow strict sanitation guidelines — donning masks and gloves when shopping and delivering.
“We always just think that it is much bigger of a concern for them to go out than for us to go out and we believe that if we’re the ones giving back, we kind of have a shield of protection around us in a way,” Kayla said.
Once the volunteers are done shopping, they leave all of the items on the front porch to avoid coming into contact with those inside. Those who ordered the groceries can then pay for the items through an app, by cash or by check.
“It’s incredibly rewarding just to know that hundreds of people are being serviced and helped because of our organization,” Leeat said. “It’s truly remarkable.”