Emma Lara skims through the body wash aisle at Walmart looking for hand soap, specifically the Equate brand with 56 ounces that comes in a two-pack. After finding it, she places the item into the shopping cart as her friend, Gianna Galvan, checks hand soap off the list on her phone. They then proceed to shop for other supplies.
While this may seem like an ordinary shopping spree, Galvan and Lara, rising seniors at Gabrielino High School, are volunteering to pick up and deliver essential items for San Gabriel Valley residents who are at risk for COVID-19 or those simply not able to leave their homes.
With Galvan’s support and incoming Gabrielino junior Cathy Nguyen’s assistance running their social media accounts, Lara started a Six Feet Supplies branch that serves the Alhambra, Pasadena, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino and Temple City regions.
She was inspired to do so after reading an article about two Santa Clarita Valley teens, Eric Luo and Zoe Monterola, who founded Six Feet Supplies, a student-run organization dedicated to delivering supplies at no cost to members in their community who have been devoid of essential needs from grocery stores. From there, Lara contacted the branch in Santa Clarita to start one in her community.
“Since COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, it’s important for us to help those who are most vulnerable,” Lara said. “We’ve offered our services to a lot of elder homes and those who may be at risk and therefore lacked the confidence to shop for themselves.”
After receiving a delivery request, Lara reviews the order purchased through San Gabriel’s Six Feet Supplies website. She would assign the request to available volunteers or take charge herself. Volunteers notify their customers that the order has been processed and keep them updated while they are shopping.
At the store, students usually shop in pairs to avoid spreading germs to each other and their customers.
“Someone would be holding the phone and checking the list, [so] they wouldn’t be touching anything,” Lara said. “Then, the second person would be grabbing the items and touching the cart, so they wouldn’t have to spread germs to their cell phone.”
Once the shopping is finished, deliverers drive to the customer’s house, place the items on their doorsteps, and utilize a communication platform to alert them that their groceries have arrived.
Lara notes that the most difficult part about running the branch is sending numerous amounts of emails and keeping all the orders organized. Despite these difficulties and not being able to meet the people they serve, Lara and her volunteers feel that it is worth it to help others during these trying times.
“Overall, working with my friends and running the San Gabriel branch is super fun,” Lara said. “Everyone works together really well, and I’ve even met some new friends through running this branch.”
Lara is thankful for the help and support she has gotten from her fellow volunteers and encourages other teenagers in the San Gabriel Valley who are interested in being involved to direct message @6feetsuppliessangabriel on Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org.