Liam Elkind Invented a New Way to Help During the Pandemic

Catherine Buchaniec
·2 mins read
Photo credit: Jessie Wardarski/AP/Shutterstock
Photo credit: Jessie Wardarski/AP/Shutterstock

From Men's Health

Photo credit: DENISE NESTOR.
Photo credit: DENISE NESTOR.

This story is part of The 2020 Project, a Men's Health special project that explores the lives of 20 different 20-year-old men across America. To learn more about the others, go here.

AS PORTIONS of the country went into lockdown earlier this year, Liam Elkind stepped up. In the beginning, you’d find him at a stranger’s doorstep in New York City in a mask and gloves, with a smartphone in hand and a grocery bag in tow.

Elkind is a cofounder of Invisible Hands Deliver, a service that allows anyone with an Internet connection to make a shopping request, which is then matched to a volunteer who does the shopping. “I understand the need for social distancing. But to be told the only thing you can do is nothing”—essentially what public-health officials were stating through #stayathome—“feels like such a nonanswer,” Elkind says.

In March, he read a Facebook post by a family friend looking for food-delivery resources to help the immunocompromised. There were no useful responses, only friends expressing a similar desire to help.

So Elkind and his friend passed out flyers with Elkind’s number, offering to deliver goods and recruiting volunteers. Within a few days, several hundred people wanted to help. Invisible Hands Deliver now has more than 10,000 volunteers around New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey.

Elkind has given himself up to a year off from Yale to expand the program. “It’s fascinating to meet people I never would have met if not for this pandemic.” Who knows what door might open next?

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