Published on March 29, 2020
by Kimberly Houghton
An army of volunteers has formed in Bedford to assist senior citizens and other individuals with a variety of errands in the coming weeks.
The Bedford Cares organization currently has about 100 volunteers ready to respond to residents who need assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group is ready and waiting to perform such tasks as grocery shopping, delivering meals or picking up prescriptions for the community’s vulnerable population.
Weeks before Gov. Chris Sununu issued his stay-at-home order, Town Councilor Denise Ricciardi was forming Bedford Cares with assistance from Chief John Bryfonski of the Bedford Police Department.
“We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Ricciardi. “People with weakened immune systems or elderly residents still need to get their food and prescription medications. We are trying to relieve the stress for these people and let them know that Bedford Cares is in place, and that together, we can conquer this challenge.”
Ricciardi said she is amazed at the interest from Bedford residents who signed up to volunteer for the program.
“The Bedford community is filled with wonderful people that want to step up and help each other,” she said.
A non-emergency hotline has been created that allows anyone in Bedford to call and seek help with errands. If someone needs a ride to a doctor’s appointment, needs their mail brought to them or just needs some food to get them through the weekend, Ricciardi said Bedford Cares can assist.
With a simple phone call, a volunteer will be dispatched to provide help in whatever way possible, she said.
“I believe when you give from yourself, it is a healthier way of living. I am a fixer by nature, and this is what I feel compelled to do,” Ricciardi said of the new organization.
The group is also helping the Bedford Community Food Pantry and Meals on Wheels program with immediate needs, specifically a shortage of supplies.
“These organizations are preparing food for people who can’t get out, and they are providing food for kids who are home, but they are very low on supplies. They just are not going to have enough of certain items,” she said.
A food drive is currently taking place to help replenish supplies for the food pantry, and food is being dropped off at Ricciardi’s home in Bedford. Aside from the food drive, personal protective equipment and sanitizing supplies are also being collected for Bedford’s first responders.
Earlier this week, Matt Mayberry of the Flag Hill Distillery and Winery in Lee dropped off a five-gallon supply of hand sanitizer for the local fire department.
“Everyone is willing to offer a hand during this unusual time,” said Ricciardi, adding Bedford Cares is a group filled with many hands ready to help when called.
Anyone looking for assistance may call the Bedford Cares hotline at 603-792-1319. Anyone interested in volunteering should visit the organization’s website at bedfordnh.net, or drop off food and supplies at 29 Magazine St. in Bedford; the donations will be distributed directly to the food pantry or the local fire and police departments.