Posted on: April 21, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Payton Millhouse, JRN 111 Student

As the novel coronavirus spread across the globe, one thing became clear: our elderly population was dying at an alarming rate, and something had to be done to save them. 

Enter Kat and Michael Arundel, founders of Leave It To Us Shoppers Inc., an organization that provides free deliveries of groceries, prescriptions, and other necessities to seniors who are unable to shop for themselves during the pandemic. What started as a small act of kindness for a family member has spread to 14 chapters across nine states and has helped protect thousands of individuals most at risk of coronavirus.  

Kat, 21, is a nursing student here at Moraine Valley, while her brother Michael, a former Cyclone, is studying biology/pre-med at the University of Alabama.

Former Moraine Valley student Michael Arundel is featured on the Today Show as “hero of the day” for starting a shopping service for the elderly during the pandemic.

The idea for their organization sprouted from the situation of an older female relative who needed groceries but could not venture out. The Arundels soon realized that this problem was not just limited to their family member, but also extended to her friends.

“It dawned on us there is a greater need for all seniors and immunocompromised people and we needed to start something bigger,” says Kat Arundel.

The siblings reached out to their friends in the area to assemble a team of volunteers that could do the shopping and deliveries. They soon realized that it wasn’t only their hometown of Orland Park that was affected, but that elderly people across the country required assistance. The Arundels contacted college classmates who were back home across the country, encouraging them to develop their own chapters of Leave It To Us Shoppers to help their own communities.

“The hardest part is hearing seniors cry to you over the phone saying they have no one to help and they are running out of food and are scared. It is heartbreaking but it’s such a joy to help them be able to get what they need in the end.”

Kat Arundel

COVID-19 disproportionately affects older people. As reported by Business Insider, per the CDC, a stunning 10.4 percent of people 85+ who are stricken with COVID-19 pass away from the disease. Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting a death rate of 3.7 percent across all ranges.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reported that those with pre-existing conditions were at a higher risk of death due to the disease, as their reports showed 10.5 percent of people with heart disease who caught COVID-19 ultimately died. For diabetics, the rate was 7.3 percent, and for those with high blood pressure, it was 6 percent.  

With this information, the Arundel siblings knew it was time to act. Through covidseniorshoppers.com, they solicited volunteers and requests from those in need. The response was overwhelming, says Kat Arundel. Emails about giving and receiving help poured in, making coordination of shopping and delivery a challenge.

But that’s not the most difficult part of this venture, Kat says: “The hardest part is hearing seniors cry to you over the phone saying they have no one to help and they are running out of food and are scared.  

“It is heartbreaking but it’s such a joy to help them be able to get what they need in the end.”

The process is simple: those in need of goods or prescriptions contact Leave It To Us via email or phone, and a volunteer connects clients to shoppers in their area. Shoppers work in teams of three to acquire everything on a client’s list. The goods are disinfected and re-bagged for the safety of the seniors, then delivered to their doorsteps. Seniors are encouraged to leave payment at the door to stay within social distancing guidelines, or they can pay using an online service. No fees are incurred as all of this is done by volunteers. 

The messages from clients are gratifying, Kat Arundel said.  “Thank you for seeing a need in our community and stepping up to form Leave It To Us!” reads a card from a client named Elaine. “Thanks for making grocery shopping safer for us.”

If you or someone you know needs groceries or prescriptions and cannot safely venture out, contact Leave It To Us at michael@covidseniorshoppers.com or at 708-289-5252. Volunteers and donations also are needed.

“COVID-19 has affected everyone’s lives so differently,” says Kat Arundel. “I think it’s important to keep positive and see what you can do to help others in this time.”

Payton Millhouse can be contacted at millhousep@student.morainevalley.edu.