Aviano volunteers shop, deliver groceries to those stuck at home by coronavirus restrictions
By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 31, 2020
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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – Senior Airman Sherraye Carter went shopping Monday at the commissary.
It wasn’t much different than a normal trip, she said, except that none of the items she bought were for her.
Carter, a member of the 606th Air Control Squadron, was one of the first people to participate in an on-base grocery shopping and delivery program for those whose movement is limited under Italy’s sweeping coronavirus restrictions.
She picked up the items on the list she had and headed to the checkout, where the cashier called the customer and took their payment information. Then Carter delivered six or seven grocery bags to a home not far from where she lives.
“I would definitely do it again,” she said. “I’m just waiting for another email.”
Carter is one of more than 150 people who have volunteered to pick up and deliver groceries for those who can’t go out themselves, said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Finney, who helped start the program called Wish List for Wyverns after the Italian government placed strict limits on people’s movements to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Italy has the highest mortality rate from the coronavirus in the world, at 11%, according to data posted on the health ministry’s website. Of 101,739 people who had tested positive for the virus in Italy as of Monday, nearly 11,600 have died, the data show. Everyone in the country has been ordered to stay home unless they’re traveling to work, buying groceries or other essential items, or seeking medical care. Only one adult per family is supposed to take care of those tasks, the rules say.
Those doing the shopping and making deliveries for Wish List for Wyverns carry special memos issued by the base to prove they are providing an essential service and are authorized to be outside of their home, said Finney, also a member of the 606th.
Volunteer shoppers vastly outnumber the handful of home-bound customers who have signed up for the program so far, Finney said.
But with numerous categories of people eligible to apply for help through the program – people with kids and deployed spouses, those in isolation or quarantine, retirees, single parents, and those whose spouses work extended hours – the numbers turning to the program for help are expected to grow, he said.
The most complicated thing about Wish List for Wyverns may be finding where to sign up online. People who need someone else to shop for them should contact their chain of command, who will give them instructions on how to use the program.
Carter said her first trip went smoothly and that she was happy to help.
“I tried to put myself in someone else’s shoes,” she said. “If I were in that situation … I’d want someone to help me.”
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Sherraye Carter, 606th Airfield Control Squadron unit deployment manager, weighs produce at the commissary on Aviano Air Base, Italy, March 30, 2020. Carter volunteered to help pick up and deliver groceries to people who can't get them themselves.
ERICKA WOOLEVER/U.S. AIR FORCE