Two Young People Devise a Simple Volunteer Delivery System

Free, safe deliveries for those held captive by the coronavirus.

By Carol Tannenhauser

It’s spring break and a lot of college students are somewhere they never expected to be — home, quasi quarantined in a pandemic that has shut down and shut in much of the city. Some, however, have found a productive and rewarding way to pass the time imposed upon them by the coronavirus: helping vulnerable neighbors, not just for the break, but the foreseeable future.

Liam Elkind, 20, a junior at Yale who grew up in the gray area between the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights, has followed the events closely.

“I was so inspired by doctors fighting this thing at the front lines, putting themselves in harm’s way to save others,” he recalled. “I knew it was my job to do what I could as a young, able-bodied person to help the cause.”

He saw a post on Facebook by a family friend and fellow Yalie, Simone Policano, 25, “inquiring whether anybody had a system to connect volunteers with vulnerable people in our community to deliver groceries and other supplies,” Liam explained in an email to WSR. “I messaged her saying I would love to help her start that kind of system throughout the city on a larger scale.” Invisible Hands was born. It now serves Manhattan, Brooklyn, Riverdale, Queens, and Jersey City.

Elkind and Policano.

Liam explained how it works if you need this FREE service. “Just go to and hit Request a Delivery. Fill out the form and a volunteer will be in touch shortly to confirm your order. You can choose to call ahead to the store to place your order, or reimburse the volunteer before/after the delivery. Our volunteers follow strict hygiene guidelines, including social distancing, wearing gloves, and sanitizing the shopping bags and baskets. Money is slipped under the door, and groceries are left outside, so physical contact is minimized.”

Click the image below to watch Liam make a delivery.

To become a volunteer, go to and click on Sign Up to Volunteer. Anyone who visits the site should also consider clicking on Donate Now.

“The outpouring of support from the NYC community has been amazing,” Liam reported. “We’re up to over 800 volunteers now in under three days. We’ve raised over $1,000, which will go toward transportation costs, keeping the website operational, and paying for subsidies for those who can’t afford groceries during this time of economic crisis.”

Liam had just returned from a delivery when he emailed. “I went to Duane Reade to pick up a prescription for a woman and walked it on over to her house. It was lovely! The recipient and I had a nice conversation and I even met her cat (from afar of course.) Part of the biggest problem with this whole thing is the social distance — people feel isolated. I’ve been so inspired by everybody coming together to serve those most in need. It gives me hope that we will pull through this.”

NEWS | 33 comments | permalink
      • CJ says:

        Inspiring! What wonderful people you are highlighting. Including the mother and son in the previous story. To create these ideas on your own is awesome. I will be making a donation. Hope both groups combine to make an even bigger impact

    1. lynn says:

      What a wonderful service! Has DR stopped making deliveries? I tried reaching them for 4 days and I know they’re in the habit of putting orders back on the shelf. I just read that stores in Australia and California are opening stores early specifically for senior shopping. I hope the stores here will implement that as well.

    2. Corey says:

      Carol Tannenhauser – you should connect Invisible Hands with Rian + Kamal Julka from your story yesterday. They can pool resources and combine volunteer lists. Since IH has a website, should be easy enough to fold their group in

    3. Beth Everett says:

      I am concerned with the shelters here on the upper west side. Are they able to get food? I know they are living in tiny SRO’s and cxan often be seen dining at the local fast food places. Would a food drive be something they might need?

    4. Irena says:

      Brilliant! In the middle of what is a stressful time for all of us but particulary us seniors with health issues who can’t even get out regularly without the virus, this is a truly needed service.

      I hope that if/when these creators and the volunteers look for jobs, that hiring people will snap them up.

      It is heartwarming to know that there are such caring young people out there especially as we’ve seen some less than exemplary behavior (Boomer remover!) in these days of the coronavirus

    5. Ruth Bonnet says:

      This story made my day!

    6. Lee says:

      These are beautiful young people… with both inner and outer beauty. Thank you!

    7. Bob Lamm says:

      This is wonderful. I’ve just made a donation to Invisible Hands. I urge others who can to consider doing so. Thanks for this article.

    8. Amelia Weiss says:

      This is really wonderful. And how great to know there are imaginative and energetic community activists. But normally I would be one of them. And because I’m called vulnerable, I can’t. It makes me feel useless. And if I’m of no use then maybe I should be dead and decrease the pressure on the medical system.

    9. Janet David says:

      So great – I feel more hopeful about America’s future

    10. Mary Looram says:

      Blessings to these volunteers and to those who donate.

    11. Linda Greene says:

      Absolutely wonderful. Bravo!

    12. Jane Rosamilia says:

      It’s a wonderful service. I just wonder about the seniors out there who are not online. Perhaps some flyers posted outside with a phone number. I’m very lucky to be a very high risk person with wonderful neighbors in my building.

      • HelenD says:

        You definitely are very lucky. I don’t live in a doorman building and my neighbors literally left town. I hope this doesn’t go on for too long!

    13. TravelgalNYC says:

      So wonderful to see! Well done Liam! I have some nephews around his age and would love to see them do public service like him (hint hint 😉 One small suggestion is that he wear gloves, even when handling the paper bags prescriptions are in. I see the elderly woman grabbed it and that could be a direct transfer from his hands to hers. But otherwise a terrific service!

    14. Robin says:

      What a truly creative and generous gift you’re offering to those less able. You’re an inspiration to all.
      I’m happy to make a donation to defray whatever costs you incur.

    15. Ann o’Brien says:

      You are a credit to yourself and your parents!
      God bless you for your caring and generosity!
      So many older people need help at a time like this.
      Hopefully you will inspire others to do more for those who need it.

    16. Shelly says:

      This is FANTASTIC!! Bravo Elkind and Policano!!

    17. C. Sipress says:

      These young people are AMAZING! What kind young people of enormous integrity. I read about them, and I ordered (easy) and received groceries within two hours–groceries that I spent hours trying to order through amazon and whole foods yesterday to no avail. Please join me in contributing to them as they are angels in this disastrous time.

      • HelenD says:

        I am more than happy to give a donation for this service! Do you mind if I ask about how you ordered? I’m not really sure how to call the store and pay ahead of time if I don’t know if the store has what I needs. And in order to pay cash I’d still have to get out to the bank. I tried online grocery services and they didn’t have delivery slots open and said to keep checking back. I guess I really took a lot for granted until this happened. 🙁

    18. Rebeca says:

      In times of turmoil we see heroes are born! Thank you Liam & Simone for organizing the hands that bless the most vulnerable with more than necessary medicine & grocery runs – you are reinforcing faith in the kindness and charity of our neighbors.

    19. Margaret says:

      My skates were stuck in my locker at Rock Center and as I am 70, I was reluctant to go get them. The rink decided suddenly to close yesterday so they had to be rescued. A lovely young woman from this group did the errand for me. I cannot thank her and Invisible Hands enough.

    20. Myrlene Burrowes says:

      Keep doing the Lord’s work. You and your group are some of his chosen Angel’s here on earth.

      God bless stay safe
      Lady Myrtrix

    21. helen newman says:

      I am so inspired with you lovely young people. And as long as there are the likes of you in this world i am optimistic about life and he future!
      Good luck to you all. I feel lots of love for you!

    22. Peter Robinson says:

      I love what they do and have benefited from their service at a time I needed fresh vegetables. Thank You Aysu