HAMPTON, Va. (April 23, 2020) – Hampton University graduating senior Anthony Burley is helping to give back to seniors through his job at Anna’s Pizza in Buckroe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Anna’s has teamed up with Hampton Councilwoman Chris Snead to help provide meals for seniors and they are encouraging others to do the same.
“These are very challenging times, especially for senior citizens. Thank you to Mr. Anthony Burley for doing what he can to ensure this population continues to receive meals during this crisis,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.
Burley is an international studies major from California. He takes orders and works as a delivery driver at Anna’s Pizza in Buckroe. When Councilwoman Snead launched the “Meal Share for Seniors” Challenge, Burley was happy to get involved.
“The woman who owns Anna’s, she was seeing how the crisis is hitting small businesses hard, and so she teamed up with Councilwoman Chris Snead, who is running for re-election. She got her friends together and came up with this idea that people in the community can call in and sponsor a lunch for a senior citizen in the community,” Burley said.
To participate in the “Meal Share for Seniors” Challenge, people can select an adult 65 or older, pick a local restaurant to support that can deliver a meal to them, and then share a photo of that restaurant on social media using the hashtag #MealShareforSeniorsChallenge. Burley said there are also seniors who have called in requesting meals so people can help sponsor them as well.
The idea for the challenge came out of Councilwoman Snead’s Hampton City Council re-election campaign. “I wanted to figure out a way to help the community. I thought about our seniors and that age group is very vulnerable right now. A lot of them live alone and don’t have any family with them. So, we came up with the meal plan challenge and it started with me providing two meals a day for seven days to senior citizens in the community, out of my own pocket,” Councilwoman Snead said. “I started asking people to give me names of seniors to help and then I partnered with Anna’s Pizza because they are a small, locally-owned business and they delivered around Hampton. We came up with the plan where people call in to purchase a meal and deliver it to a senior. Anna’s then delivered absentee ballots to seniors for voting, as well as information regarding my campaign.”
Burley has really seen the impact this pandemic has had on seniors and the meal sponsorship is a great way to give back. “I think it’s really easy for people when anything major happens, to focus inwardly, and to only make sure that they’re okay and everything is about them. I think there’s this idea that people think if I’m okay, then everything is fine, but I want someone else to be doing good as well,” Burley said. “Senior citizens are really getting impacted by this. A lot of the ones I’m seeing are African American and because of the health care burden and failure of our society on elder folk and many African Americans, it’s been good to see these folks getting some help. If we can help lift the burden just a little bit, then it’s worth it.”
To help sponsor a meal, people just need to call the restaurant and they can choose between different pre-fixed options. The restaurant then will deliver the meal to the person of their choice or someone who needs a sponsor.
“I want people to know that at the end of the day, the biggest thing is serving the community and building a culture for service, establishing a pipeline where people can get fed, spiritually, mentally, and try to make sure the black community is doing okay. Get out there and serve,” Burley added.
Another Hampton University student, Khadijatou Camara, is also giving back to seniors during this pandemic. Camara is a 5-year MBA student from Raleigh, North Carolina.
“I volunteer with the Peninsula Agency on Aging by driving various routes throughout the Hampton Roads area and delivering meals to elderly members of the community,” Camara said. “I usually do this around two or three times a week depending on how busy I am with classes. I’ve been volunteering with them for a little over five weeks now, so it’s been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed being able have an impact on the community, especially with all that’s going on right now.”
Camara wants to remind folks of the importance of reaching out and checking up on the older population. “A lot of the people that I deliver to don’t really have any visitors and sometimes don’t even get any phone calls so I’m the only person who they’ll see or talk to the whole day. That takes a huge toll on people mentally and emotionally. Even if you can’t get out to volunteer, something as simple as a phone call, goes a long way,” Camara said.