Hannah Lucas, 22, works at a Circle K in Caribou, Maine. During her grocery store shifts, she noticed that older adults were out shopping for themselves, usually only picking up a few items at a time.
Lucas told Maine Public Radio, “I was seeing the elderly coming in and only buying small amounts of food, like a gallon of milk or eggs or fruit.”
Lucas had the idea to use her team of dogs to deliver groceries to her community’s more vulnerable individuals so that they can remain safe at home.
“… I really just wanted to help minimize their risk with the pandemic going on,” said the 22-year-old.
Lucas has had her dogs for 5 years. She moved from Virginia to Caribou two years ago to pursue her love of sled racing in the state she heard has ‘the best snow in the lower 48.’ She now runs the Northlane Siberian Huskies and Seppala Siberian Sled Dog Team and a kennel of Siberian Huskies.
Lucas posted about her delivery service on Facebook to gauge local interest and the response was immense.
“I never really expected it to blow up the way that it has,” Lucas said.
On March 5th she made her first two deliveries. Now Lucas, two dog handlers, and fourteen dogs that go out in two teams of six to make 4-6 delivery runs each day, covering around 50-75 miles.
“It feels really bigger than myself, to be able to know that I’m helping keep these people safe,” Lucas said.
They take orders over the phone and through Facebook and map out a route using Maine’s Interconnected Trail System, meeting delivery recipients near their homes.
Of course, people love to see the dogs. Lucas said one older couple cried as they watched the team approach.
“A lot of the people really enjoy seeing the dogs, and they’re always really thankful when they see us coming up with their groceries,” Lucas said.
As for the dogs, Lucas says:
“They love it. As soon as we start to pull their harnesses down off of the wall, they kind of know that they’re getting the chance to go out and have some fun.”
Lucas and her Siberian Huskies will continue to deliver groceries as long as there’s snow, and she plans to offer the service even after the pandemic has ended.
So it looks like the team’ll be back at it next year.