CHICAGO (CBS) —  It’s no secret that seniors are especially at risk in this COVID-19 crisis.

But CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole met a young man from Orland Park bridging the generation gap, by making shopping runs for them, and possibly saving lives.

They are young shoppers on a mission, but not to hunt down hand sanitizers and wipes.

Michael Arundel is organizing grocery runs with his college age friends to keep vulnerable senior citizens out of stores during the COVID-19 emergency.  It’s all volunteer and free of charge.

“People are looking for hope and we are just looking for a way to provide that for people,” Arundel said.

He began modestly posting the service on his Facebook page last Friday and almost instantly, he heard from hundreds of volunteers and seniors in need from throughout Chicagoland.

But logistics are limiting him to his neighborhood of Orland Park for now.

“We kind of make a game plan on how to navigate the store,” Arundel said.

In teams of not more than three, the volunteers make their way through the stores. One gloved volunteer pushes the cart, the others select the items and place them inside.

Later, at home, the goods are sanitized, washed down and re-bagged. They’re delivered to senior’s doorsteps, with payment left outside in an envelope. There’s no contact with those placing the orders.

“This was one of the items we like, Amy’s Soups, and my daughter’s name is Amy,” said Gayle Bodenheimer of Orland Park.

Bodenheimer is 63, and one of the first seniors to sign-up for the service.

“For people who cannot drive, people who are scared, this is wonderful,” Bodenheimer said.

She was also Michael’s fifth grade teacher.

“This is so typical of Mike. He’d be there for you,” she said.

“I think it’s our generation’s time to lead by example. It’s time to show the generation to come what they can do,” Bodenheimer said.

Here’s where Michael’s leadership has taken his effort: Companies are offering to seed his charity and set up a more sophisticated order system online to service the hundreds who have already reached out.

All from one kind gesture from a young man in a time of crisis.

Click here for more information on Leave It To Us and how you can help Michael and others get shopping done for seniors.

 

Vince Gerasole