Santa Barbara realtor Adam McKaig has been working 10 to 12 hours a day for the past six weeks. But he's not selling tile-roofed mansions and beachfront condos. He's delivering groceries, medications, and supplies to elderly and at-risk people in his community.
"In March, real estate became a nonessential business," McKaig says. "We weren't allowed to hold open houses or show properties. I had all this free time, so I posted on Facebook that I could do grocery shopping or pick up medications for people who were confined to their houses."
McKaig is one of hundreds of California businesspeople—from dog-treat baking entrepreneurs to 3D-printer operators to James Beard Award–winning chefs—who are using their free time during California's shelter-in-place to aid their communities. They find a need, and they fill it—delivering dog food to the housebound, making plastic face-shields for medical workers, dishing up meals for the hungry.
McKaig received hundreds of responses to his social media post, and not just from people needing assistance. Some wanted to donate money and goods. Others offered to lend a hand making deliveries.
"The response was tremendous," McKaig says. "It was heartwarming to see all the people who wanted to volunteer."
What started as a one-man community relief effort soon morphed into Adam's Angels, a group of about 100 volunteers who collect and distribute essential goods to residents of Santa Barbara, Montecito, Summerland, Carpinteria, and Goleta.
McKaig said many of those in need are housebound due to medical issues. Some don't have access to transportation, and others simply don't have money.
"We're helping elderly people who are on a fixed budget and can't leave their homes to shop. We're supplying food, soaps, masks, gloves, and hygiene products to homeless people," McKaig says. He spends several hours each day trolling the grocery store aisles, trying to procure the groceries and goods that people have asked for.
"Sometimes an elderly person will request a certain brand of soap, and I have to tell them to give me a second or third choice, too," he says. "The store shelves are hit-and-miss, but I'll go to eight stores in a day. I'll drive down to Ventura and Oxnard to shop."
While McKaig will accept cash for his home deliveries, if someone isn't able to pay, he covers it. "At first I was doing everything out of my own pocket, but now we have some financial donations that are really helping."
His growing group of "angels" offer whatever they can, from trucks and trailers to skills and services. "We have a seamstress who is sewing masks out of beautiful dress fabric. We're giving out her masks to anyone who needs them," McKaig says. "We have a psychologist who is donating his services for people who suffer from PTSD or other mental issues."
One volunteer offered to set up an Adam's Angels website, "to help get the word out that we're here and we can help," McKaig says. The site serves as a portal for people requesting assistance and those who want to volunteer or donate.
Bix Kaufman, who owns the popular Santa Barbara nightclub EOS Lounge, offered his temporarily shuttered property for Adam's Angels to use as a distribution warehouse. "It has a walk-in refrigerator and plenty of patio space we can use for sorting donations—and we can stay six feet apart," McKaig says.
Donated goods have poured in. "We got thousands of articles of clothing, hundreds of pairs of socks, dozens of brand-new Puma shoes," he says. "Our volunteers go through it all and distribute it."
When a local restaurant, On The Alley, wanted to donate breakfast burritos to the frontline workers at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, McKaig arranged the delivery. He's also managing Thursday night dinners in Alameda Park—a free hot meal for anyone who shows up.
"We are feeding about 100 people every Thursday night. And we have C.A.R.E. 4Paws donating pet food."
The sixth-generation Santa Barbaran is no stranger to altruism. McKaig made local headlines last August when he discovered an antique diamond ring in the parking lot outside a Carpinteria grocery store. He alerted the store manager and left his contact information in case anyone came searching for it. A few days later, the ring's owner was reunited with the century-old heirloom.
McKaig has one message for Santa Barbara residents who are struggling during the coronavirus crisis: Get in touch. "We will help anybody who needs it, any way we can be of service."