March wasn’t an easy month for any of us. Between figuring out how to work efficiently from home, doubling as a teacher for a nine-year-old, and finding the elusive roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer, it seemed like we had our hands full. But our “new normal” was still pretty normal. We felt compelled to do something to help others in our community.
Trish always spoke fondly of how her mom had volunteered with Meals on Wheels. As fate would have it, she heard an ad for Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) looking for volunteers for its Groceries to Go program. Local seniors were clearly facing a far more challenging March than we were. After a flurry of texts, we knew this was the perfect opportunity to help make a difference. Since March, the three of us – long-time friends – have been doing bi-monthly shopping trips at our local Giant for our new friends – three Alexandria seniors.
SSA is a critical organization for our community, particularly during these uncertain times. And the Groceries to Go program seamlessly fulfils a crucial need that many seniors have. In partnership with Giant Food, screened volunteers shop and then deliver groceries to their “assigned” senior every other week. Groceries are ordered based off the senior’s personal shopping list. There are no delivery fees and no minimum orders. The only requirements? Seniors must be over 60 years old and live in the city of Alexandria.
We are the first to admit that the initial trips to Giant were not that seamless. Toilet paper was still elusive. Ditto for the hand sanitizer. Disinfectant wipes? We’re still looking for them! And shopping for someone else can be hard! But gradually we all developed a routine, got to know our seniors better, and six months later, we’ve got it down. Key to our success is Sandy Freedman, the director of the Groceries to Go program. She is an incredible ambassador for the program and a real inspiration to volunteers and seniors alike.
What do we value the most from our experience? The chats with our seniors, of course. They’re a lovely diversion from our day-to-day responsibilities. Early on, we shared our concerns about the pandemic. Now, we are more likely to chat about our families and the cooler weather as we enter fall. And we’re extremely lucky when our seniors regale us with the colorful stories of their lives. The topic doesn’t really matter; it’s the connection that does. After all, who doesn’t want to meet a new friend to chat with? While we decided to volunteer with Groceries to Go to help seniors get their shopping done, we definitely gained so much more in the process – our three new friends.
For more information about the Groceries to Go program or Senior Services of Alexandria’s other services, contact Sandy Freedman at (703) 836-4414 ext. 119, or visit SSA at https://seniorservicesalex.org/.