By Sierra Whitten
Even through times of worldwide confusion and uncertainty, southern hospitality reigns supreme. A group of volunteers aptly named “Shopping Angels,” led by Ole Miss student Lauren Snodgrass, have dedicated a few hours out of their busy weeks to provide free grocery delivery to the area’s most vulnerable population.
Shopping Angels is a program that provides a shopping service for those especially at risk to COVID-19 such as the elderly and immunocompromised. The CDC classifies individuals who are 65 years and older and individuals with underlying health conditions as more at risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19. This service has been implemented to ensure that these community members are able to get basic necessities without the risk that comes along with visiting crowded shopping centers.
Shopping Angels was originally founded by University of Nevada student Jayde Powell. From a small start of 20 volunteers in Reno, Nevada, Shopping Angels has grown tremendously with over 2,800 volunteers providing service to clients across all 50 states.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, I have been concerned about the health and safety of those most at risk, and I reached out to those locally who should not be exposed to others and offered to run errands and pick up groceries for them,” said Snodgrass, the coordinator for Mississippi. “When I heard about Shopping Angels, I knew that I needed to get involved and bring these resources to a greater amount of people.”
So far, Snodgrass has a growing team of 25 volunteers spread across Mississippi who are eager and ready to help anyone in need. She hopes to have a group of volunteers in every county soon.
“Clients are paired with a volunteer who is given a list of 10 things that they need. The volunteer shops for the items and delivers them to the client’s doorstep. The shopping and delivery services are free. Clients are only required to pay for the cost of their groceries,” said Snodgrass.
The Lafayette County branch of Shopping Angels is up and running, and they are looking to make the service known to those in need. Both clients and volunteers can sign up using the Shopping Angels Google Form. Family members who are not located in Oxford can also sign up their loved ones who are here to receive the service. Shopping Angels asks that potential clients and volunteers provide a valid phone number and an email address that is checked regularly, as these are their main lines of communication.
The service can also be useful to residents who are quarantined due to the virus.
“Though the program was created to specifically help the elderly and immunocompromised, there are no requirements to receive the service,” said Snodgrass.
If you are quarantined due to the virus, please email beforehand at ShoppingangelsMS@gmail.com, so that volunteers will know to take extra precautions. For more information, visit the Shopping Angels Facebook page or email them at ShoppingAngelsMS@gmail.com. To sign up for the service, please follow this link.