People in North County Rally to Help Seniors Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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“DO YOU NEED HELP DURING PANDEMIC?”  That’s the message Kristin Woods of Encinitas posted on her Nextdoor page.

She was stunned by what happened next -- 140 people responded to the message but most of them didn’t need help, they wanted to give help to their neighbors in need during the coronavirus crisis.

“We didn’t expect this big of a production,” said Woods. "When I started I thought it would be like five of us on a text chain like 'Mary down the street needs groceries.' 'I’ve got it.'”

Woods said she began getting private messages from other people on Nextdoor, the social media platform that connects neighborhoods. Within days, she had a committee of team leaders and a volunteer force ready to run errands for those who are self-isolating to avoid contact with the coronavirus.

NBC 7 met Danyella Burciaga outside the Encinitas Walmart store where she’d just picked up prescriptions for an elderly couple now confined to their home.

“With all this free time it’s the least I can do,” explained Burciaga, a University of San Diego masters student who teaches at a local elementary school. “I know that a lot of elderly aren’t able to go outside right now, and I’m already at the store picking up last-minute things, so it’s really no hassle at all.”

The spirit of volunteerism became overwhelming for Woods who said the group didn’t have the kind of demand they expected but that is expected to change.

One of the group’s members is the assistant director of the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center. Lizzy Weiss told NBC 7 her agency is sending out letters to seniors from Encinitas, Solana Beach and Rancho Santa Fe to let them know there are people willing to help them get through the coronavirus crisis while senior centers are closed.

“Even if they just need a friendly phone call to just check in, we’re happy to help with volunteers,” said Weiss, who spoke via Facetime because she is self-quarantined at home with a sore throat.

Weiss said her agency is reaching out to local grocery stores to let them know that seniors who need to have their groceries delivered during the crisis can count on volunteers to handle it.

NBC 7 also spoke to a Meals on Wheels spokesperson who said they are in need of volunteers now more than ever.  Many of the people who deliver meals are over 65 years old and are now self-isolating to help contain the spread of coronavirus. To volunteer, visit here.

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