This student created a network of 'shopping angels' to help the elderly get groceries during the coronavirus pandemic
(CNN) -- Amid the desperate crowds and sparse shelves at supermarkets across the country, there is grace in the aisles. Jayde Powell is a "shopping angel," and she and her growing army of volunteers are providing free grocery delivery to the sick and elderly.
Powell is an honor student at the University of Nevada, Reno. She got the idea to organize a few volunteers to help out during the pandemic when her mother mentioned calling elderly neighbors to see whether they needed anything.
"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," Powell told CNN.
Kindness goes national
She started "Shopping Angels" by enlisting about 20 members of her medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon. As need grew, she reached out to other classmates and turned to social media to recruit more. But Powell credits her interview with CNN affiliate KVVU for putting Shopping Angels on the national scene.
"It is really quite astonishing to me," she 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."
Since March 13, the 20-year-old has been diligently connecting volunteers across the country with people in need through email, phone and Facebook.
Some clients give their angel a shopping list, budget and money to cover the purchase. Other clients purchase their groceries online, and a shopping angel does the pickup.
With many older adults living in poverty, Powell said she doesn't want anyone to be afraid to reach out because of their budget.
"We don't want money to be a deterrent," she explained. "If you cannot afford toilet paper or something like that, you're still to reach out to us."
Powell created a GoFundMe account to help those who may not be able to afford essentials.
Las Vegas-based Anderson Dairy has also contacted Powell to donate dairy products to the program.
"We're doing this to try and reach out to people who might feel that they are just completely alone in this situation."
Powell requires her shopping angels to wear masks and gloves during transportation, pickup and delivery. Additionally, Powell asks her volunteers not to go inside the homes for the safety of everyone involved.
To find out how you can get involved, head over to the Shopping Angels Facebook page.
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