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Volunteers Do The Shopping For At-Risk Residents In This 'Buddy System'

The Buddy System links at risk residents with volunteers.
The Buddy System website
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, eggs, whole milk and dogfood are all things on a normal grocery list.


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Isabella Marie Garcia delivers these items and gets reimbursed all while never coming in contact with the buyer. For older residents and those with weakened immune systems, taking a trip to the supermarket during the coronavirus pandemic can be dangerous.    

Garcia’s buyer has a weakened immune system and is more susceptible to COVID-19. She’s part of The Buddy System, a local network of at-risk residents who need help getting everyday items. 

“We’re using gloves and masks to make sure we don't come in contact or potentially pass on anything we might have germs or anything like that,” Garcia said.

Garcia is a student and has more free time now that she is working from home. For her, helping is being part of the solution.

“I’m not going to stand by and just sit around. It’s important to focus on those who usually get overlooked in our community,” she said.

A list of resources available to South Florida residents during COVID-19 pandemic.
The Florida Channel
A list of resources available to South Florida residents during COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Gutierrez founded the Buddy System with Kristin Guerin. She says the community support makes her feel less alone. 

Gutierrez is a student and has a background of community organizing, Guerin is an actress from New York. They met one night after a performance and started The Buddy System soon after.

Now the organization has around 200 volunteers operating social media, graphic design and other web design. They also share resources with at risk communities and have partnered with 

The Buddy System has around 30 volunteers delivering groceries in South Florida and is branching out to Palm Beach County this week.

“We have a lot of folks ready to work,” said Guerin

If you need help getting groceries or would like to volunteer visit

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Gerard Albert III is a senior journalism major at Florida International University, who flip-flopped around creative interests until being pulled away by the rush of reporting.