ANTIOCH (CBS SF) — Reporter Bob Butler made a career for himself delivering the news, but in recent weeks he’s made East Bay neighbors grateful he’s delivering essentials during the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Butler, a part-time news reporter for KCBS Radio, took notes, but not for a story. He went shopping at Costco in Antioch for those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
“I like helping people anyway,” said Butler. “This just seemed natural – people needed help and I had the time and ability to do it. And it made me feel good.”
When the Bay Area sheltered in place in March, the US Navy veteran was concerned about senior citizens, those with compromised immune systems, and parents with small kids.
“So I went on Next Door and offered to pick up things for people who needed it, and I wasn’t going to charge them, just pay me whatever it cost,” Butler said.
He now connects through Neighbors Helping Neighbors on Facebook, and delivers mostly to Antioch, Brentwood, Discovery Bay and Oakley.
“People would just ask me, ‘Well, can you get me some toilet paper?’ ‘Can you get me milk? I can’t find milk. I can’t find eggs,'” Butler said. “You know, in the beginning, those things were really hard to find.”
“And the orders began rolling in, to the point where I think the most I ever had was 37 deliveries in one day,” he recalled.
He shops for seniors like Ginney Juarez and her husband, who have a hard time getting around.
“I don’t know how we’d do it by ourselves,” Juarez said. “He would give you the shirt off his back. He helps everybody. He never says no.”
Costco employees like Theresa Jackson know Butler by name.
“This guy is awesome,” Jackson said while walking in to work. “He’s been here every day since the whole quarantine started.”
LEARN MORE: Jefferson Awards for Public Service
And for Butler, managers have been known to relax the customer limit on scarce items like Lysol disinfectant so he could serve families like Jessica Valdivia’s. Her 11-year-old son Fernando has asthma, so their family is staying at home as much as possible. They appreciate Butler’s help.
“I can never repay him for the good he’s done for all of us,” Valdivia said.
Butler has a special place in Fernando’s heart for finding his favorite food: Hot Pockets. When he makes deliveries, Butler has also brought treats like Otter Pops and water balloons for the household’s children during the hot summer.
His reward: hand-drawn thank you cards for picking up essentials for adults and kids who’ve become like family.
“It’s really been heartwarming,” Butler said.
So for shopping for hundreds of neighbors sheltering in place, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Bob Butler.