Cops delivering groceries to residents during coronavirus pandemic

The Smyrna Police Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia, on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the AJC)
The Smyrna Police Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia, on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. (Photo/Rebecca Wright for the AJC)

The Smyrna Police Department is stepping up to help the city’s most vulnerable residents get the basic necessities they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

The department’s Community Relations Unit will pick up and deliver groceries for residents age 62 and older or who can’t get to the store due to a hardship. Sgt. Louis Defense, public information officer with the department, said the agency started the initiative this week, after the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommended people avoid pharmacies and grocery stores over the next two weeks.

“I realized that our seniors are greatly impacted because it’s difficult for them to get out,” he said. “They are our most vulnerable segment (of people) to this nasty disease.”

This latest effort to help city residents is part of the Support Smyrna initiative, which allows people to make donations to purchase grocery store gift cards for less fortunate citizens or pay a person's utility bills. As of Tuesday, more than $50,000 had been contributed towards the project, said Mayor Derek Norton.

“Holistically, this community is really coming together to help neighbors in need,” he said. “I’m overwhelmed with the support.”

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To take advantage of the grocery and prescription drug delivery, residents must call in or go online to place their orders at the following locations: Publix at 4480 South Cobb Drive, Kroger at 3240 South Cobb Drive, Walmart at 1785 Cobb Parkway or any CVS or Walgreen pharmacy in the city. 

Once an order is ready, residents will need to call Defense at 404-661-6699 or officer Taylor Elliott at 678-816-8396 with the details. They will deliver the items free of charge from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents should note that the officers won’t do any shopping or handle any items once they are picked up. Residents must also pay for the items before they are retrieved from the store.
The officers will use disinfectant spray and hand sanitizer, and wear personal protective equipment when picking up groceries and delivering them to residents.

Once at a resident’s home, the officers will drop off the items while practicing social distancing. For example, Defense said one resident he delivered to on Wednesday opened her garage door and the rear of her SUV where Defense placed the groceries.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Defense said he expects to make several deliveries. Defense said he hopes other communities will take a page from Smyrna's playbook and consider leading the effort to help residents who have had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic. 

He also said the initiative is a win-win because it allows residents to follow the shelter-in-place rules and allow first responders to protect and serve the community. 
“We are utilizing your tax dollars, in my mind, the most the effective way possible,” he said. 

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