Elderly and at risk citizens can now have groceries delivered to them for free thanks to Southern Utah Quarantine Support.
At risk citizens can fill out an online request http://bit.ly/runnerrequest or call 435-986-4114 to request a free delivery of necessities like medications, groceries or sanitary supplies.
The group, created by John Jones and his wife Kirsten Larson, originally started as just a Facebook page. Larson said her husband saw the effect COVID-19 was having on other parts of the world and knew it wasn’t long before Southern Utah was part of the turmoil.
The Facebook page was up and running on Thursday March 12th and in less than a week had 4 thousand members. On the page volunteers could sign up to be “runners” and those at risk could request help by filling out an online form linked to the page. Multiple volunteer admins and team leaders could link runners and requests according to school district boundaries.
Despite the rapid activity growth on the page Larson observed most people were volunteering to be runners, not requesting service. “We recognized that a lot of older people don’t want to get on Facebook. They don’t know what it is and don’t really care
To extend communication to the older generation, the group reached out to Lisa Maria a professor at DSU, who organized to with DSU’s Marketing and Communications department to design and print 10 posters and 2000 fliers to post around the southern Utah area. Staples Print and Marketing, SteamRoller Copies and the Print Store also assisted by offering to print fliers for free.
In addition at risk citizens can now call a number to file a request instead of having to use the internet. Maria said Mango Voice has volunteered to answer the calls and help connect them to volunteer runners.
The Facebook group upgraded to an official Non-Profit Organization on Friday evening March 20, Less than 2 weeks after its initial creation.
Soon after it became and NGO Elizabeth Vega joined the organization as a Spanish translator to reach the Hispanic community. Volunteer members continue to put in countless hours in an effort to make the service as effective as possible.
Jones posted on the page, “…The primary purpose of this group is to connect those in need of supplies due to quarantine (including self-quarantine) with members of the community who are willing to make supply runs on their behalf ("Runners")." Jones stressed to "respect the generosity of runners" but only having elderly and at risk homes use the service. He also asked that people request necessities including "groceries, medications, and related items."
Larson estimated that her and other admins spend at least 4 hours a day managing the page. But she said the time paid was worth it. “We can’t just live here and see all these things happen and do nothing. We have got to step up in whatever way we can.”