by Henry Blanchette, Freelance Editor
photo contributed by Project Driveway
After picking up groceries from Sudbury Farms, junior Sasha Layer delivers them to her elderly client in Needham, who is unable to leave their home during the pandemic because of their age.
Since schools switched to virtual learning, students have started engaging in volunteer work to provide aid to the elderly and immunocompromised.
Layer has spent the past few weeks volunteering for Project Driveway, a nonprofit created by juniors David Carmel and Anat Katz along with Brookline High School junior Eyal Arkin. Since the beginning of April, Project Driveway has shopped for and delivered groceries to at-risk individuals with no additional delivery charge.
“[It’s] to give back to our community, to help out people who need help and to come together using our strengths as high school students,” Layer said.
Katz said that the project’s mission is to ensure the safety of at-risk individuals.
“They’re at a lot higher risk than we are for COVID-19, and going into a grocery [store] for some elderly and immunocompromised [individuals] is really scary,” she said.
Carmel said that Project Driveway’s quick turnaround makes it more accessible for the elderly and immunocompromised. Other grocery delivery services, like Instacart, are available, but, unlike Project Driveway, which delivers food within two days, they are usually subject to longer delays.
Katz said that advertising Project Driveway in Facebook groups has been successful. Within the first month, Project Driveway saw over 25 new volunteers and fulfilled approximately 160 online orders across the Greater Boston area.
Project Driveway isn’t the only student nonprofit created during the pandemic. Sophomore Anna Tkebuchava has also used her free time to volunteer by creating the Greater Boston chapter of an international organization called Students Against Corona (SAC).
Tkebuchava started the Greater Boston Chapter after hearing about the organization on the news. The SAC delivers medicine and helps with everyday tasks, such as dog walking, in addition to delivering groceries.
Tkebuchava said that student-run organizations emphasize the importance of high school students giving back to their community.
“We’re one of the only hubs that have all high schoolers in our team, so it shows that we can be mature when we have to be, and we can step in and help with problems and [act on] things that we think are important,” she said.
Sophomore and SAC volunteer Sydney Finklestein said that nonprofits created during the pandemic should continue to help those in need even after the pandemic.
Tkebuchava said the message of SAC extends beyond delivering groceries.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is just bring it tighter together to help out seniors, the people whose immunities are compromised and even support small businesses,” she said.
Both nonprofits are looking for volunteers.
“We need a lot of volunteers, so if anyone would love to volunteer for us, we [would] greatly appreciate that. If people are interested, on our website, there’s a page where you can fill out a volunteer form,” Carmel said. “If you can help people and if you can make a difference, it’s worth making some sacrifices to spend time and do what you think is right.”
Katz said that unpaid volunteering has ethical benefits.
“I was trying to get some volunteers and some were like, ‘Why would we do this when we can get paid by Instacart?’” she said. “My message would be that this is different. This is you doing this out of the goodness of your heart, and this is you trying to make a difference.”