Student Shopping for Elderly Service Expands to Tuscaloosa, Birmingham

Student Shopping for Elderly Service Expands to Tuscaloosa, Birmingham

Portraits of three college students in a collage.
Tuscaloosa coordinators of Leave It To Us are Lauren Shilling, left, and Abbie Ray, top right. Ibukun Afon, bottomr right, is the Birmingham coordinator.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Alabama students are expanding a free grocery deliver service for seniors that was started by a UA student.

Leave It To Us, a non-profit organization that helps senior citizens practice social distancing by using volunteers to grocery shop for them for free, now has Tuscaloosa and Birmingham branches.

Lauren Shilling, UA senior, and Abbie Ray, UA sophomore, are the coordinators for the Tuscaloosa branch of the organization created in Chicago during spring break by UA junior Michael Arundel.

Shilling, a 22 year old from Los Angeles double majoring in advertising and communication studies, said she saw a story about Arundel on Instagram and, being impressed, reached out to him to see how she could replicate it in Tuscaloosa.

“I left for spring break, but came back here, and I am now quarantined in Tuscaloosa,” she said. “I think this could be great for Tuscaloosa because now that we’re taking classes online there’s a lot of students out of work with a lot of free time.

“While we’re quarantining and trying to finish out the semester, we can help others.”

The Tuscaloosa branch started March 31 and already has 25 volunteers. They are prepared for seniors seeking aid with their grocery shopping or pharmaceutical pickups, Shilling said.

In Birmingham, recent UA nursing graduate, Ibukun Afon, started a Leave It to Us Branch. Afon, a native of Nigeria who works at UAB Hospital, said he’s passionate about helping people in this crisis and outside of it receive adequate healthcare and nutrition.

“Considering that I have an elderly grandparent myself who I cannot see due to risk of exposure, I figured I’d do what I can in Birmingham to help those in need,” he said.

“As a nurse, helping others in need is something that we’re constantly doing, and it’s a natural fit to me to want to serve the community in whatever capacity I can when I’m not at the bedside. It’s a God-given purpose.”

Those interested in volunteering for either the Tuscaloosa or Birmingham chapters of Leave It To Us can contact Shilling and Ray or Afon on the organization’s website,

Seniors who want help with shopping can contact the students in their area through the organizations website.



Jamon Smith, Strategic Communications,, 205/348-4956


Lauren Shilling,, 954-540-0856, or Ibukun Afon,, 770-329-8677