A high school student in Oregon created a volunteer-based organization to deliver groceries for free to at-risk senior citizens.

By Kelly Vaughan
June 16, 2020
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All across the country, millions of people are performing acts of kindness to help out those in need during the coronavirus pandemic. At-risk senior citizens with pre-existing health conditions are perhaps the group in greatest need of support while social distancing guidelines are still in place. Neel Jain, a sixteen-year-old high school student from Portland, Oregon, saw firsthand how much care seniors need during this time; after offering to help deliver groceries to his grandmother, Jain realized that he could provide the same service for others.

grocery bags with produce and other foods
Credit: Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Getty Images

"She has asthma and she's in the at-risk category, and I was glad to help her shop," Jain told TODAY. "But then I realized that there are many other people in the community who don't have that family support." So, in mid-April, Jain launched PDX Concierge, a free and safe grocery delivery program that services anyone in a high-risk group including the elderly, immunocompromised, or first-responders. While Jain's program initially started in Portland, he expanded the service to seven other cities in Oregon including Beaverton, Clackamas, Bend, Eugene, Salem, and Tigard.

"When I found out about this service...it was like, 'Oh, what a relief, I can have somebody do the heavy-duty grocery shopping for me,'" Regina Brody told TODAY. Her husband has multiple medical conditions and is considered to be in the highest risk group for contracting COVID-19.

PDX Concierge has made approximately 60 deliveries so far; aside from the cost of the groceries, there is no additional delivery charge, which is unique from many other delivery apps and services. Jain or one of the many other volunteers receive the order, shops for the groceries while wearing gloves and masks, and then receives payment upon delivery. From everyday essentials like hand sanitizer and toilet paper to ingredients for dinner such as avocados, tortillas, and rice, PDX Concierge brings everything that at-risk individuals need directly to their homes.

"People have definitely loved our service," said Jain. "Every time we deliver, when we drive off I can see the smile on their face. (Recipients have) given us a lot of thank-you notes and flowers. You can really see how a small act of kindness can go a long way, and I've built a lot of friendships."

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