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Local College Student Inspires with Company To Help Older Adults Shop During COVID-19

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A month ago, Michael Arundel was a junior at the University of Alabama with hopes of someday becoming a surgeon.

Today, he has emerged as a local hero in the COVID-19 crisis after a mention by Gov. JB Pritzker during a press conference brought him hundreds of e-mails, interviews from Chicago media outlets and a giant list of people wanting to join his cause.

Arundel, who is now back living with his family in Orland Park, has started a free service, Leave It To Us, to shop for and deliver groceries to senior citizens and individuals who are homebound. Customers are charged only for the cost of groceries. Payment must be through cash or check. He is working to take credit cards in the future. Service areas are: central, north, west, and southwest Illinois; and Chicago and south Chicago suburbs. Chapters of his service have formed in other states.

The idea for the service was conceived after shopping for his Dad’s cousin and her friends who were concerned about the pandemic.

“It was amazing. It was rewarding. They were so grateful and appreciative and I felt it was easy to do,” said Arundel, who added that he is in the process of deciding whether the service will continue after the pandemic ends. “It isn’t set in stone but I would love to do that.”

After Pritzker mentioned the service during a March 31 COVID-19 press conference, the response was remarkable. Arundel has received close to 500 emails and has a pool of 150 potential volunteers.

“We are very grateful for him. Because without him, we wouldn’t be as well-known as we are. A lot of people wouldn’t be utilizing our services.”

Volunteers do the shopping and delivering of the groceries. The potential volunteers undergo background checks to help determine trustworthiness and credibility. Although they have received some donations, currently volunteers pay for their own vehicle mileage, protective gloves, and disinfecting wipes; and if they have them, protective masks.

“Our volunteers are so excited to get involved and so excited to help out. People all share the same mission as I. We want to prevent the spread of this illness through our vulnerable population. It doesn’t matter if we’re throwing twenty dollars out of our pockets to keep you safe,” Arundel said.

Arundel is in the process of applying for non-profit status as a 501 (c) (3) organization. After individuals are able to write-off their donations on their tax returns, he hopes his service receives more donations. He then will be able to cover volunteer expenses, customer credit card processing fees and help some individuals who are unable to pay for their groceries. At times, Arundel has partnered with food banks who donate food items that his service distributes to his customers who are in need.

The sudden popularity of the new company has made Leave it to Us a family endeavor.

“We actually have what we consider a war room in our home where we read emails, talk to people. My parents have done orders. My sister has done orders. They’re all on board and constantly helping me out,” Arundel said.

Although Arundel had planned on becoming a surgeon, his experience with Leave It to Us is causing him to rethink that decision. He is considering switching to a different physician specialty that involves more human connection.

“I think every single call I get, the human interaction with our seniors and people are very genuine and they light up my face every time I get a call. They’re all great. As crazy as it gets, the happier I get too,” he said.

You can contact Leave It To Us in four ways:

1. at www.covidseniorshoppers.com,

2. the Leave It To Us Facebook page,

3. by emailing micheal@covidseniorshoppers.com

4. or calling (708) 289-5252

The preferred methods are digital. Michael promises to contact everyone who contacts him.

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