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Molly's Angels provides free food to Napa County seniors during pandemic
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Molly's Angels provides free food to Napa County seniors during pandemic

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Holding three bags of groceries he’d just picked up from outside Nob Hill Foods, Kevin Eason was a man on a mission.

His goal was to deliver the food to a senior citizen who lives in a housing complex on Redwood Road.

There was just one problem. This resident wasn’t answering her phone.

Eason called her again. Nothing.

Next, he dialed his contact at Molly’s Angels.

Try again, said Julia Orr, the executive director of the nonprofit.

He did, and this time – bingo – success.

With a buzz, Eason was admitted into the senior complex, where he then dropped off the food at the entryway of the woman’s apartment.

She seemed quite pleased at the delivery and thanked him.

It was all in an afternoon’s “work” for Eason, who is a volunteer with Molly’s Angels.

Molly’s Angels is known for helping out seniors in Napa Valley. Eason was providing a new kind of assistance.

Called the Emergency Grocery Delivery Program, the service offers free groceries and free delivery to any senior in need.

Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, “We realized that our seniors would not be able to leave the house for groceries” like they normally would, said Orr.

“We have quite a few who have very specific diets and who don’t use Meals on Wheels, so we decided to utilize our volunteers to deliver groceries to them instead,” she said.

To help eliminate the volunteer – many of whom are also elderly —also having to go into the grocery store, Molly’s Angels gets the grocery list from the senior, orders the food online, has the volunteer pick it up outside the market and drop it off at the front door of the senior.

And it’s all free, even the food.

“We didn’t want to get into muddy waters asking for payment and didn’t want money exchanging hands” between clients and volunteers, so thanks to donations from supporters, “we also pay for the groceries,” Orr explained.

Since March, volunteers have made 110 deliveries to homes in American Canyon, St. Helena and Napa. Most orders go through Raley’s and Nob Hill grocery stores because those stores offer online ordering and curbside pick-up, said Orr.

“Toilet paper was a huge issue at first,” said Orr, “so I ordered a huge box online.” Even though toilet paper is a lot easier to find these days, “our volunteers will deliver toilet paper as well,” she said reassuringly.

The other most common items ordered include basics such as eggs, bread and milk, she said.

Eason, who is 67, said he’d been laid off from his printer job in Napa. But he’s not the sit-around-at-home type. “After about three weeks” of solitude, “I said, ‘I’m going crazy. I need something to do.” With that, he connected with Orr at Molly’s Angels.

Two to three days a week “I have something to look forward to,” he said. Plus, he’s helping out someone in need.

Eason said he appreciates the no-contact pick-up and delivery. As a fellow senior citizen, “I don’t want to get this either,” he said of COVID-19.

How long will the free grocery service continue? “As long as we can,” said Orr.

Like many other nonprofits, Molly’s Angels is also trying to adjust its fundraising efforts during the pandemic. Their annual golf tournament may not happen at all this year, she noted.

“We brainstormed a number of ways to fundraise during not only a pandemic but an unprecedented economic downturn,” she said. One of the events we did come up with is a virtual 5K/2.5K – instead of coming together to hold a 5K race event it’s all online and participants can do this from anywhere at their own pace.”

Molly’s Angels has been able to continue with its other efforts, including the Transportation Program although it’s operating at about 60% of normal, said Orr. In addition, “we have hugely increased our Telephone Reassurance Support Program to help with depression and anxiety.”

Watch Now: Napa County coronavirus testing site volunteers discuss their work

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 256-2218 or jhuffman@napanews.com

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

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