WHILE most of us are still tucked up in bed, Thando Mkhize wakes up at 4 am to get to work daily to start her 12-hour-long shift at 6 am.With her essential service permit in hand, she treks from West Street to Parklane Superspar where she is running operations for the online orders amid the 21-day national lockdown.By 9 am, the grocery orders come trickling in and Mkhize has to ensure that all the items are picked from the shelves, packed, sanitised and delivered.The busy online unit, which was established to keep customers safe and at home during the lockdown, receives more than 80 online grocery orders a day. “There are no shifts, we work to satisfy all the customers,” she told The Witness.“We have six designated staff members for the online orders. Once the groceries have been packed, we must sanitise the plastics to ensure the customer’s safety.”The 29-year-old mother of one from Sweetwaters said although she was scared of possible exposure to the virus, she remains brave and carries on with her essential service.“I follow all the necessary precautions. I sanitise my hands like crazy. If I had an option to bath in sanitiser I would,” she said.“Every three hours I change my disposable gloves. As much as I’m scared, I enjoy being of service to people and ensuring they have food during this time.”For Mkhize, the biggest sacrifice is not being able to spend time with her son Halalisani on weekends.“I usually go home every Friday. I’ve elected to stay away from my family until the virus is well managed. I can’t risk exposing my family to the virus. “Once the dust settles, I’ll spend time with my son again. Rather late than never."