[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic. This section is made possible by Eastwood Mall and named in honor of Mark Eckert, who made a difference in the Mahoning Valley.]
GroceryGrab is a new delivery service made up of volunteers who are striving to relieve the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delivery service started in Mahoning County but has since expanded to Columbiana and Trumbull counties, as well as Toledo, Canton and Cincinnati.
Matthew Ellis, an Ohio State University student — together with his brother, Michael Ellis, his friend Nick Stamp and his girlfriend, Sara Kauffman — formed GroceryGrab to serve the vulnerable.
Interested customers or potential volunteers can contact GroceryGrab through their Facebook page, GroceryGrab Volunteers, or contact Ellis at 330-207-8657.
Customers contact GroceryGrab ahead of time to set up a delivery day and time. On that day, GroceryGrab matches customers with a driver in their area. The driver will give a 10-minute warning before arrival, and customers place a grocery list with their preferred grocery store and money for the cost of groceries along with a $3 gas fee in an envelope outside for the driver to retrieve.
If there are inconsistencies between the grocery list and what is available at the store, the GroceryGrab driver will call to confirm any changes.
The driver will deliver the groceries to the customer's front door and put the receipt and any remaining money in the envelope. Ellis said GroceryGrab double checks that customers have their change, receipt and all groceries before leaving.
According to Ellis, GroceryGrab drivers wear masks and take their temperature before heading out on a delivery, and that the temperature is sent to the customer to ensure the driver is healthy.
When Ellis first saw the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the community, he was determined to help. That’s when his brother suggested he form a grocery delivery service.
"I think a lot of people have a natural instinct to want to help and in this case, it seemed like the only way to help was to stay at home. So I wanted to figure out a way to harness a lot of people's feelings of obligation to their community in a safe way they can feel they are helping during this troubling time,” Ellis said.
Since the start of GroceryGrab in March, the delivery service fills roughly 30 orders a week in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
Ellis said GroceryGrab’s main goal is to serve as many people as possible but hopes to expand and possibly hand over the delivery service to a larger nonprofit organization in the future.
"A lot of the reasons why we have so many volunteers is because a lot of college kids are home because schools are closed and that sort of thing. So our goal is to make a decent organization and hopefully hand it off to people who can continue to do good for the community going forward” he said.
Ellis said he and the other co-founders are working to make themselves of best use to the community, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the future as well.
"We’d like to see more people get involved and create an organization where people feel connected, especially in times where everybody seems to be at each other's throats, whether it be politics or a number of other issues, it's nice to see people of all different backgrounds are able to come together and try to help a singular case,” he said.