New program aims to help neighbors with supplies during coronavirus outbreak

One of several neighborhoods in Cranbury is the Cranbury Station hamlet. ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF
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One of several neighborhoods in Cranbury is the Cranbury Station hamlet. ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, a new program in Cranbury has been created by residents to help neighbors in sudden need of grocery and pharmacy supplies.

Neighbors for Neighbors connects neighborhood volunteers with their neighbors who request such a need for support. The community program is spearheaded by residents Laura Zurfluh, Committeewoman Barbara Rogers and Heather Scott.

“We are collecting people’s name, address and emergency contact information and whether they are willing to volunteer,” Zurfluh said. “We are hoping the people who are in need will already be registered in the program and if the have a sudden need for medication or food we can connect them to someone who has volunteered.”

There is an online form that residents can fill out to be an either a volunteer or sign up for support. For those who have requested support volunteers will follow up after viewing a google sheet.

“We are trying to have each neighborhood in town have a neighborhood captain. I have already helped someone in my neighborhood and have sent out an email to all my neighbors. If they are interested they will send me the information,” Zurfluh said. “If someone contacts me I can set them with an individual that can help them or I can help them out as well.”

She added that she is concerned about people who are at risk possibly exposing themselves to coronavirus to retrieve needed items.

“People I don’t think realize that they may be the ones suddenly in need, even if it is not because they have the virus and they are just in quarantine. I wanted there to be some type of system in place for people who do not have someone to help them,” Zurfluh said. “This gives people peace of mind.”

According to Zurfluh, people have still been able to handle their important needs on their own and as of now not many people have requested this type of support.

“From a purely personal standpoint I love seeing our residents come together to help each other and do want all of us to step up and help. However, as an elected official I have a practical concern,” Committeeman James Taylor said. “I worry that without proper training and protection the individuals seeking to help could put themselves, their families or those they are trying to help at increased risk. If someone is already making a trip for groceries or the pharmacy, then adding items to their list is a very kind act that I am sure is appreciated.”

He added that provided the person delivering the goods is not sick, leaves the items at the door, and has no close contact with the person, they are helping.

Volunteers are being asked to follow social guidelines issued from the state, Middlesex County Board of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when retrieving and dropping off needed items, according to Rogers.

“We encourage distancing when out, gloves, wiping down the items with antiseptic, and dropping the items outside for the neighbor to pick up. We are recommending the basic safety measures that are out there right now,” Rogers said. “This is neighbors helping neighbors.”

The program is a loose network of volunteers organized by neighborhood leaders or captains in Cranbury.

“Within neighborhoods volunteers are helping each other out. Most people are OK at this point. We wanted to get this information out to people who are elderly and those who have pre-existing conditions,” Rogers said. “People are stepping up and volunteerism is alive and well in Cranbury. This is what we do best.”

For more information about Neighbors for Neighbors, visit www.cranburydems.org.