Volunteers take part in free grocery and pharmacy delivery program

Submitted photo A free delivery service has been started in Saint Andrews for seniors and others in the vulnerable sector as well as those who are self-isolating to avoid the spread of COVID-19. This was a combined effort from the Town of Saint Andrews, the Kiwanis Club, Joey’s Your Independent Grocer, and Cockburn’s Corner Drug Store, and is one of the reasons Joey's Independent was nominated for The Saint Croix Courier Shine On award.

Saint Andrews – With the province in a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people self-isolating, there are those who are unable to get to grocery stores and pharmacies.

Volunteers in Saint Andrews want to help those who are vulnerable, such as seniors, by making sure they have access to groceries and prescriptions through a free delivery service. This service is the combined efforts of the Town of Saint Andrews, the Kiwanis Club, Joey’s Your Independent Grocer, and Cockburn’s Corner Drug Store.

Paul Nopper, clerk/senior administrator for the Town of Saint Andrews said the town is compiling a list of people who would like to help out by volunteering to delivery groceries and prescriptions to those who are unable to get out and pick up these items themselves.

“We’ve established a free food and pharmacy delivery service with the Kiwanis,” said Nopper. “If anyone wants to participate, whether it’s a phone call to check in to the vulnerable sector or self-quarantined people, or who want to be part of the delivery service may contact the town. We put them on a list, and then we provide the list to the Kiwanis. They will set up scheduled times for when volunteers will be needed.”

Guy Groulx, a councilor with the Town of Saint Andrews and also a Kiwanis Club member, said the idea came about as the Town saw the crisis develop, and that it is an initiative of the Town of Saint Andrews. He said they felt that as a municipality, they could play their part in helping keep residents safe.

“It’s an initiative of the Town of Saint Andrews,” said Groulx. “So, the Town of Saint Andrews started off in partnership with the Kiwanis Club to initiate a home delivery. Very quickly, we found the generosity of our townspeople and we amassed a volunteer list of about 50 people.”

Groulx said they created a registration list of those who are in self-quarantine, so they know who they are and so the club can check up on them periodically. He said the Kiwanis Club has remained involved, and they do the front-end logistical work, which involves organizing the volunteers and providing support.

“What we’re trying to do is keep people at home, keep them safe, and take away any reason they have for going out,” said Groulx.

Joe Craswell, owner of Joey’s Your Independent Grocer, said he intends to keep the store open to the public until the Prime Minister says otherwise. He thinks this service is a great idea, and it is as simple as calling him with grocery orders. He will do his best to try and make sure that each order is filled with the products people need as long as they are in stock.

Orders are to be paid for via credit card at the time of the calls. For those who do not have a credit card, purchases will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Cheques from seniors who are well-known to Craswell will be accepted.

“It’s a daily thing, seven days a week,” said Craswell. “It gets paid for with a credit card, over the phone, or by email, which is preferred. We’ll need your name, address, and phone number. Give us the credit card number and we’ll ring it in for you.”

The Kiwanis Club will send out volunteers each day at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. to pick up orders. They will be taken to the customers’ doorsteps. The volunteers will ring the bell and stand back to make sure they are keeping with the social distancing warnings while ensuring the customers receive their orders.

Tasha Muise, pharmacist and owner of Cockburn’s Corner Drug Store, also thinks this free delivery program is a great idea. She said people can call the store to order their prescriptions, and just like with the grocery deliveries, purchases can be paid for by credit card and volunteers will pick up packages at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. She said if someone doesn’t have a credit card, they will figure something out, and no one will be denied their prescriptions.

“I’m thankful that the Kiwanis Club came up with this great idea so quickly. Any help we can get to make sure people get the medicine they need is appreciated,” said Muise.

“I’m thankful that the Kiwanis Club came up with this great idea so quickly. Any help we can get to make sure people get the medicine they need is appreciated,” said Muise.

Muise said the drug store was once a take-out restaurant, and the take-out window is still in the office. This has proven to be quite beneficial, as people are able to pick up their orders at the window without having to go into the store.

This way, they are able to maintain social distancing. When the volunteers deliver orders to customers, Muise calls the patients to make sure they received their prescriptions. If they have any questions, she will counsel them over the phone.

“Even though our pharmacy is now running through that window, we basically are full service. If people need over the counter supplies, shampoo, Tylenol, baby wipes, we can service them through that window no problem,” said Muise.

Nopper said this delivery program is a great step forward to keeping the community as tightly knit as possible during a time when people are being asked not to go out and socialize. He said there have been two mail-outs sent to residents of Saint Andrews, one about COVID-19 and the best practices and procedures, and one about the free delivery service.

Nopper added that anyone who feels they are in a vulnerable sector or who is self-isolating should call to be put on a list, and volunteers will periodically check up on them.

“If they need services, we can arrange services,” said Nopper. “We want to try to get ahead of the ball on this. We have a number of snowbirds returning, people coming back from international travel, and their food stores might be down. We want to make sure that they go into self-isolation and we want to provide services for them.”

One more service has been added to this list, and that is delivery of small items from Home Hardware, such as tea kettles, batteries, light bulbs, and specialized repair items, such as small plumbing fittings.

If you need larger items, you are asked to place orders by phone at 529-3158 (payment by credit card over the phone), and you will be required to pick up the items curbside. Anyone who needs deliveries from Home Hardware is asked to provide their name, address, and telephone number at the time of ordering.

If anybody in that situation in Saint Andrews needs service please call the town office at 529-5120, or email pnopper@townofstandrews.ca. Nopper also encourages everyone to visit the Town of Saint Andrews Facebook page for updates about protocols and procedures regarding COVID-19.