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Glenville sets up senior shopping aid program in response to coronavirus

Glenville sets up senior shopping aid program in response to coronavirus

Volunteers sought to grocery shop or to donate basic paper and cleaning products to seniors
Glenville sets up senior shopping aid program in response to coronavirus
Glenville Town Comptroller Jason Cuthbert organizes donations for seniors at Town Hall Monday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

GLENVILLE -- The town of Glenville will be doing the grocery shopping for senior citizens who request it due to the coronavirus outbreak.

With the Town Board have approving an emergency declaration on Sunday, Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle announced the launch of the senior assistance program. It is intended to eliminate a worry for homebound senior citizens, some of whom may be afraid of going to the supermarkets, which have become more crowded and their products scarcer as people worry about hunkering down.

"We have about a dozen volunteers lined up already," Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said on Monday.

Koetzle said he got the idea after seeing a recent national broadcast new story about a senior citizen couple who waited outside a market because they were afraid to go inside, eventually approaching a stranger whom they thought looked trustworthy-- and was. While that story ended happily, Koetzle said he suspected many local seniors might share the concern.

"That's when it hit me, the town of Glenville has the resources that it can help," Koetzle said.

COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus, is especially serious for those who are older or who have underlying health conditions. The concern has prompted other measures to try to protect senior citizens, as public gatherings become more restricted.

Last Friday, the town closed the Glenville Senior Center for at least the next two weeks, including shutting down the congregate senior meal site there that has provided lunches five days a week.

In the new program, being overseen by Deputy Supervisor Gina Wierzbowski and Director of Human Services Vicki Hillis, volunteers and town employees will do basic grocery shopping for any seniors who request it. An employee or volunteer will do the shopping at a Glenville supermarket, and a town employee in a town-marked vehicle will make the delivery.

The program will operative seven days a week, Koetzle said. The seniors will pay for the groceries with either cash or a check when the items are delivered. The service will focus on providing basics like paper goods, hand soap, cleaning supplies and food items.

This program will run through at least March 30, but could be extended. "We're looking at two-week horizon right now. In two weeks, we'll re-evaluate," Koetzle said.

Residents who want to help may also donate paper goods such as toilet paper, facial tissues, paper towels, hand soap, or basic cleaning supplies like disinfecting/antibacterial wipes or sprays.  Those items can be brought to the Town Hall on Glenridge Road, though people are asked to call ahead to be sure the town has sufficient storage space.

Volunteers are also needed to help with the shopping, which will involve a morning commitment of about two hours, town officials estimate. The groceries will then be given to one of the town's senior center van drivers or another employee for delivery. All deliveries will be made by people using town-marked vehicles.

Both seniors looking for assistance and residents looking to help should contact Hillis at the senior center phone number, 518-374-0734, or via email at [email protected].

Reach staff writer Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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