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California Fire Dept. Goes Grocery Shopping for Those Who Can't During COVID-19 Outbreak

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Firefighters in Glendale, California, are going the extra mile to help at-risk individuals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

After California urged those particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus to isolate, the Glendale Fire Department started encouraging its firefighters to pick up groceries for seniors and other residents with underlying health issues.

Glendale Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas told the Glendale News-Press that many of the older people who are in self-isolation may not be able to use technology to get their needs covered.

Lanzas asked the Glendale Firefighters Association whether any of its members would want to help the “vulnerable population receive some of the essential services they need like food and medical prescriptions.”

“I put out a memo [on March 17] to the organization asking for volunteers who would be interested and, frankly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the response,” he said.

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Dozens of firefighters have since volunteered to take orders and purchase whatever is on the grocery lists of those in need after they get off work.

“Our fire department stepped up,” Lanzas told KTTV. “We have over 100 volunteers that are coming in off-duty — helping them by going to the store, shopping … and delivering them to these seniors and other vulnerable people.”

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Though firefighters themselves can’t stop the coronavirus, Lanzas said they’re trying to do what they can.

“As firefighters, we want to help. We want to solve the problem. This one we can’t really solve, but we can certainly support,” he said.

But grocery shopping is not an easy task at the moment, even for these local heroes who usually fight fires. Just like everyone else, they are struggling to find everything that residents need because essential items are flying off the shelves far quicker due to high demand.

“It’s hard enough with us having the time, looking for it, so I could imagine the challenge would be for an elderly person or some with any underlying issues out here,” firefighter Dylan Butcher said.

“It’s not easy to come off shift or a long couple nights, but it’s for the good of the community — especially at a time like this.”

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The Glendale Fire Department receives orders for groceries, medications and other essential items via phone call.

They then send a firefighter to retrieve the items. After they complete the shopping trip, first responders present the resident with the receipt so that the department can be repaid.

However, they don’t require any payment for the delivery.

“It’s an out-of-the-box idea but we feel that, with this population, we want to encourage them to stay at home so that we can flatten the curve of this disease and this is just helping to do our part,” Lanzas told the News-Press.

“Remember, the fire department is always here for you when you need us,” Lanzas said in a video posted to Twitter on March 17, “and together we will get through this.”

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Skye Malmberg started out as an editorial intern for The Western Journal in 2019 and has since become a Staff Writer. Ever since she was 10 years old, she has had a passion for writing stories and reporting local news. Skye is currently completing her bachelors degree in Communications.
Skye Malmberg started out as an editorial intern for The Western Journal in 2019 and has since become a Staff Writer. Ever since she was 10 years old, she has had a passion for writing stories and reporting local news. Skye is currently completing her bachelors degree in Communications.




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