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At Risk For Coronavirus? He'll Shop For You For Free

Nigel Chisholm shops at Westridge Midtown Market in Ojai. Stephanie O'Neill/LAist
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This week is a critical one in the battle against the novel coronavirus, with public health officials urging all of us to not only stay home, but to avoid going to the grocery store if possible.

For those of us who need to stock up, heeding that advice means finding someone to shop for you.

And while a growing number of shopping businesses are popping up in communities throughout Southern California, Nigel Chisholm of Ojai has been doing it for free.

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Since mid-March, Chisholm, 58, has been offering to grocery shop for Ojai residents most at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The local wine bar owner said when the pandemic shut his and nearly all other businesses in town, he began searching for a way to help vulnerable people.

On a drive to Los Angeles an idea popped into his head: Why not offer free grocery shopping and deliveries to local people who -- because of health challenges or age – can’t or shouldn’t shop for themselves?

Chisholm’s venture has been a godsend for Debbie and John Perry, both of whom are over 65.

“You give him a list before 10 a.m. and then he shops between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.,” Debbie Perry said. “And then he delivers it with gloves and mask on and it’s just been great.”

Chisholm even takes the time to teach his new clients how to use online payment apps. That way, he said, he can collect the grocery money without the need for a cash exchange that could spread the virus.

Health experts say the growing number of grocery shopping services like Chisholm’s are an important tool in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

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