‘Shopping Angels’ delivering basic needs to RI’s most vulnerable


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — We’re all in this together.

It’s a message that’s been circulating across the country as neighbors help each other in any way possible to get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, there’s a program taking hold in Rhode Island to facilitate just that.

Kristen Perhamus said she first heard about Shopping Angels through a touching video online. The program was founded by a premed college student in Nevada named Jayde Powell who was out of school and saw a need in her community, according to Perhamus.

“Realized there was a lot of people at-risk in the community there — the elderly and immunocompromised — and it would be great to be able to bring them some services like delivering groceries for those that feel scared to go out to the grocery stores at this time,” she explained.

After watching the video, Perhamus said she was inspired to get involved.

“Just a way to help the community in an uncertain time,” she said. “It was something that spoke to me as an immediate need and very relevant.”

Perhamus said she reached out to Powell to volunteer in Rhode Island but learned it hadn’t been set up yet, so she became the state coordinator. The group is looking to help senior citizens and individuals who are immunocompromised.

“We’re just trying to get the word out now that the services are available because we’ve got volunteers all over the state ready to go,” Perhamus added.

As of Wednesday, Perhamus said she had about 22 volunteers throughout Rhode Island, including Erin Lemay.

“I just thought it was very heartwarming, to be able to go out and help people,” Lemay said.

Lemay said she was touched by the same video so she found the local chapter and signed up.

“I felt if a 20-year-old college student is taking the time, making the effort, then certainly I could as well,” she said.

Perhamus said the idea is to get a list of groceries, about 10-12 items, for people in need of the essentials. One of the Shopping Angels will then be paired with a resident and deliver the items to their front door.

“That could be anything from picking up a prescription from CVS or getting dishwashing liquid at the grocery store or some essential groceries,” she explained.

Lemay stressed there are guidelines volunteers need to follow in order to comply with state safety protocols, adding that clients need to pay in cash. 

“I have to confirm with that client that she’s going to pay in cash, I have to wear a mask, and I have to wear gloves and I am not to enter the house for safety reasons, for both of us,” she said.

Lemay went on to say the transaction will take place outside. The client will leave cash, and in return, the angel will leave the items outside the door.

Perhamus said the group is hoping to help as many people as possible.

Want to volunteer? Fill out this form »

Shopping Angels can also be followed on Facebook and Instagram.

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