Southampton Town’s free senior delivery service has so far been a success, with more than 900 town residents signing up in the first week, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said.
And he would know. Schneiderman personally distributed the first item requested from a constituent in need.
“It was a senior I knew that had a drain blockage, we’ll call it, and needed a plunger,” he said. “So, I went to the hardware store and dropped it off on their stoop. The report was, it worked.”
Town employees across many departments now find themselves working as temporary couriers during the COVID-19 pandemic, using town vehicles to offer free delivery on essential goods from businesses that do not otherwise provide that service.
More than 140 deliveries had been made as of Wednesday through ASAP, or the All Seniors Assistance Program, according to Deputy Town Supervisor Frank Zappone, who is heading the program. The service is open to anyone in Southampton Town who is at least 60 years old.
The Southampton program began March 25, and Riverhead Town rolled out a similar program two days later for its seniors and veterans.
In Southampton, vendors include local drugstores, grocery stores and hardware stores. Business phone numbers will be listed on the town’s website, and seniors will be able to call the business directly, place an order and pay via credit card.
The service is also helpful for smaller businesses, such as the Sag Harbor Variety Store, which cannot logistically offer delivery.
“We are able to stay open, but we are short-staffed and we don’t have the resources to deliver,” said owner Lisa Field. “Now I can direct them [customers] to the program.”
Town employees volunteered to be part of the program and are receiving their regular pay to take on their new and unexpected job duties.
“I would have done it regardless,” said Stephen Garcia, a part-time staffer in the town clerk’s office who said he signed up for the program before he knew it was a paid position. His assignment Wednesday included stops at Goldberg’s Famous Bagels in East Quogue and Olish Farms Country Market in Eastport.
Popular items have been grocery staples like bread and cold cuts, cleaning products and, of course, toilet paper, he said. Recipients from Bridgehampton to Eastport have been nothing but appreciative, Garcia said.
“Anyone I’ve had contact with, they’ll scream from the window ‘thank you so much,’ ” he said.
And sometimes those they help are one of their own.
Stephanie Leibowitz, a Sag Harbor resident and a research technician for the town, was one of the first to use the program and has made two orders, one to Cromer’s Market in Sag Harbor and the other to the Sag Harbor Variety Store. Leibowitz said the turnaround time from order to delivery was less than four hours and that she is taking this new normal in stride.
“It’s an adaptation and you just do what’s necessary for the whole community,” she said. “It’s not personal. We’re all joined in one way or another. When everybody follows the guidelines, it will work.”
Call 631-702-1777 or visit southamptontownny.gov
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