Volunteer teens looking for Tri-Valley seniors they can help with grocery shopping

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli / Pleasanton Weekly

Eumin Lee delivers groceries to senior Lori Murphy, filling the order she placed online at zoomerstoboomers.com/Dublin. (Photo by Liam Day)

Some teens who want to help are grocery shopping for at-risk seniors and others who are advised to stay home to avoid the coronavirus.

“During this pandemic, I have been working with a program called Zoomers to Boomers where Generation Z teens like me deliver groceries to seniors and the immuno-compromised for free,” explained Eumin Lee, who just completed his junior year at Foothill High School.

Zoomers to Boomers volunteer Eumin Lee shops at Lucky supermarket, which was requested by the customer. (Photo by Liam Day)

The endeavor was begun mid-March by Danny Greenberg, a 17-year-old in Santa Barbara who had the idea to set up a service for members of Gen Z (born 1995-2015) to grocery shop for the at-risk baby boomers (born 1944-64). Greenberg quickly put up a website, temporarily tagged the effort Zoomers to Boomers, and posted it to Nextdoor to reach his neighbors.

After a story appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press, the enterprise took off, and Greenberg recruited friends to assist with the rapidly increasing deliveries and to update and maintain the website. And he found that customers liked his off-the-cuff name.

The word about Zoomers to Boomers continued to spread via coverage on “Good Morning America,” ABC, Forbes and Vox among other news outlets as well as on social media. When Lee heard about it in Pleasanton, he went to the website to learn more.

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“I found a branch in Dublin and contacted the leader, Liam Day,” Lee said.

Zoomers to Boomers shopper Eumin Lee suggests that people be specific when ordering groceries since the variety of produce is unfamiliar to some teens. (Photo by Liam Day)

After filling in the volunteer forms, stating that he was following social distancing and had not traveled, Lee was ready to shop.

“I don’t shop that often, and it was hard to find all the items,” he recalled with a laugh. “My mom does all the shopping.”

Lee suggested that boomers keep this in mind when filling out their shopping lists.

“Be as specific as you can because I want to get the color of the bell pepper right,” Lee said. “The first time it was kind of confusing because there were a lot of varieties but it was a good experience for me to learn.”

Lee said the seniors are grateful for the service.

“They are not that picky as long as they get their groceries,” he said.

Feedback on the website, using only first names, shows their appreciation.

“Just knowing that you are there is deeply assuring, and frankly spiritually meaningful in a time of stunning losses,” said Christopher.

Janet and David commented, “We just had a fabulous meal with the groceries that were delivered. Everything was perfect and you have no idea how much we appreciated this. Thank you again.”

Now Lee serves as head marketer for Zoomers to Boomers Dublin and shops less frequently. He said they are looking for additional seniors to use their service as more teens are volunteering to help, and they have contacted senior centers and local governments to find how to reach more clients.

To use the service, go to www.zoomerstoboomers.com/Dublin and fill out the form to order up to 12 items at one time from a grocery store of choice.

Orders may be placed once a week and are filled within 24 hours, from Monday through Saturday. Once the shopping is completed, the zoomer calls the boomer with the exact total and the estimated time of arrival.

The zoomer pays for the groceries, then is reimbursed by the boomer at the time of delivery by check, cash or Venmo. There is no delivery fee, and any tips are donated to other organizations that help those in need.

“Seniors often give tips, but they are not encouraged,” Lee said.

The website shows an extensive list of instructions to be followed by delivery volunteers to keep everything sanitary, from proper use of masks and gloves to wiping down everything touched, to minimizing transfer of items. Checks and cash received are kept in a paper bag for three days until safe to be touched by ungloved hands.

Zoomers to Boomers is now in 31 cities nationwide as well as in Hyderabad, India, with teens who want to shop for those at risk.

“Right now we have more volunteers than orders so we want to spread the word,” Lee said. “Also as we are starting to reopen, we feel the risk is going to be great for seniors and the immuno-compromised.”

Shoppers for Zoomers to Boomers always wear masks and a fresh pair of gloves. (Photo By Liam Day)

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