Local college student launches volunteer home delivery service

Local business owners helping out, too

Like college students across the globe, Lindsey Lewallen suddenly found herself on an extended spring break when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Unlike many other students her age, Lewallen chose to stay home. “I was actually supposed to go to the beach for my spring break but I decided not to because I saw how bad it was in Italy and that kind of scared me,” she says.

The Maryville College junior packed up her things in east Tennessee and returned to Habersham County. She was hanging out at home feeling “kind of useless” when she saw a story on TV about a free home delivery service.

Lindsey Lewallen

“I saw a story on GMA [Good Morning America] about a kid in New Jersey who did it and thought, ‘Oh wow! If he can do that, I can do that here.”

Soon after, Lewallen launched Lean on Me – a volunteer delivery service for those unable to safely shop during this pandemic due to their age, medical condition, or other risk factors.

She set up a simple online process. Individuals sign up for the service through a website at https://lean-on-me-delivery.square.site. They list their name, phone number, and address then include their order. They may even list their preferred store or pharmacy.

Once Lewallen receives the request, she confirms the order and goes about filling it.

“I will go to the store and will buy it with my own money,” she explains. “Once I deliver it, the individual can reimburse me through cash or Venmo.”

Lindsey and another volunteer, Brooke Loggins, wear gloves and follow public health guidelines on social distancing when delivering the purchased items. They drop the items at the door and do not go into peoples’ homes. There is no charge for the service; the shopping time and delivery are free.

Ever since launching Lean on Me in mid-March, Lewallen has been trying to get the word out. She wants to encourage more people to use the service and, hopefully, volunteer.

Currently, the free delivery service is available in Habersham County, Georgia, and Blount County, Tennessee. Several of Lewallen’s college soccer teammates are manning the service there. Volunteers may sign up to help in those or other communities by emailing leanonmedelivery@gmail.com.

As she waits for the day she can return to campus to finish her undergraduate work in exercise science, Lewallen is determined to make the most of her time. “I just want to help as many people as possible,” she says, “because I know it really is a scary time. I just want to help ease that fear and slow the curve.”

Can’t sign up online?

Josh and Laura Anderson

Habersham County residents who are unfamiliar with the internet and who don’t have family members or caregivers who can assist them online still have an option for free delivery service.

The Demorest-based realty company North Georgia Home Group is volunteering its services to help the elderly and those who are medically fragile.

Owners Laura and Josh Anderson and their colleague Angie Wingo are taking delivery orders over the phone and shopping for those who can’t. They’re also available to meet people at the store, shop for them, then load the purchases into their vehicles. They give the people they help a receipt and they reimburse them. The shopping time and delivery are absolutely free.

Over the past two-and-a-half weeks they’ve helped a dozen families in Habersham County.

“The genuine appreciation that everyone has expressed has made our assistance all worthwhile,” Laura says. Many of the people they’ve helped have tried to pay them for their time and gas but she insists that isn’t necessary. “We are here to simply help and don’t expect or even want any sort of monetary compensation. We are truly just happy to serve our community.”

Anyone in Habersham County who needs help with their shopping may call, text, or email the Andersons at 706-499-1124 or 770-912-6334. Their email address is NorthGAHomeGroup@gmail.com. You may also connect to Lean on Me by clicking on the image below.

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