Become a Shopping Angel to Help the Elderly and At-Risk

Volunteers are food shopping and delivering groceries for the elderly and at-risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quarantine – Woman Helping Senior Man

Now that COVID-19 is surging again, the elderly and at-risk population in Rhode Island may be wondering how to safely get groceries into their homes. Thankfully, there’s a local branch to a national volunteer program called Shopping Angels that’s available to help. It all started when University of Nevada, Reno, pre-med student Jayde Powell began the program Shopping Angels as a way to help the sick and the elderly by offering free grocery delivery. Now, their efforts have expanded nationwide.

Kristen Perhamus, of Middletown, is the Rhode Island state coordinator, organizing efforts for more than 114 volunteers offering their services to 191 elderly and at-risk Rhode Islanders with 441 trips and over $36,000 purchased in groceries since COVID hit. Unfortunately, there’s a need for more shopping angels.

“Shopping Angels could use some additional volunteer ‘angels’ to help shop and distribute food to those in need as the pandemic continues,” Perhamus says. “The specific areas in need of volunteers are Pawtucket, Providence and Warwick.”

The process goes like this:

1. Clients sign up for service and we match them to a volunteer in their area and then the volunteer will contact them for details, such as the shopping list.

2. Volunteers will go to a store, or sometimes several stores, to find the requested items.

3. Upon delivery, clients exchange cash for their items. No one is expected to pay more than the amount shown on the receipt.

Perhamus asks that clients exercise social distancing procedures during deliveries which may include leaving the cash outside or paying electronically. Volunteers should not enter any homes in case of transmitting outside contaminants.

Volunteer Requirements:
(a) be 18 years of age or older, unless accompanied by a parent/guardian.
(b) not have been in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19.
(c) not have traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days.
(d) not display any symptoms of illness (major symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath).
(f) practice social distancing and good hand hygiene.
(g) wear masks or alternatives (scarves, bandanas, etc.) when available. The CDC now recommends you wear cloth masks when in public spaces.

If you are interested in volunteering, visit this link: Interested volunteers and those in need of help can also reach out by phone 401-264-0480 or email at



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