LIVINGSTON, NJ — Maurice Korish and Adam Hollander, rising seniors at Livingston's Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, have organized a large network of volunteers to deliver groceries to the elderly during the pandemic.
Their project, “Deliver Together,” was launched at the end of March after the teens asked their rabbi what they could do to help people in quarantine. Korish and Hollander took their rabbi’s suggestion to deliver food to people at highest risk to contract the novel coronavirus and immediately began recruiting volunteers.
The teens, both gifted STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students, wrote an algorithm that matches clients with volunteers who live near them. Through their automated website, Delivery Together is able to provide services to residents of Essex, Morris, Union and Somerset counties.
In order to assist as many people as possible, the high school students also formed partnerships with various organizations in those areas.
“Although this may be an especially stressful and demoralizing time for most, we believe that during these moments our communities must come through for those in need,” said Hollander, who also volunteers for the Homeless Awareness Club. “Oftentimes, the high school community may not feel that they can make an impact during troubling times; however, our platform gives them an opportunity to not only make minimal impacts during a crisis but perform meaningful acts of kindness that can potentially save lives.”
Livingston residents Rabbi Zalman and Toba Grossman, co-founders of The Friendship Circle and LifeTown, expressed gratitude toward Deliver Together for providing more than 100 meals to their organization and also delivering supplies for special needs art and cooking classes being offered via Zoom.
“They happily did whatever we needed them to do and did it lovingly,” said Toba. “They are very responsible, eager to work, amazing and incredible.”
Deliver Together is also collaborating with the Livingston and West Orange Chesed Communities, Supporting Our Seniors in Rockaway and The Interfaith Food Pantry of Morristown.
“During this pandemic, we decided to take initiative and support the community with free deliveries and errand-runs, believing this would both mitigate the spread of the disease and protect those most vulnerable,” said Korish, who also serves and a peer tutor and a Diller Teen Fellow Alumni, volunteering at food and homeless shelters and assisting disabled children. “It is our responsibility to take care of each other, even more so during difficult times.”
Hollander and Korish tapped Shimon Nissel, owner of Shimon/Shimtal Caterers and manager of Kushner’s food services, to prepare the 170 packaged family meals that have been brought to their clients so far.
They expressed their appreciation for their clients who are helping them grow their organization. Korish noted, “Many of our clients found our program so helpful that they began spreading the word to their acquaintances and neighbors, which led to our volunteer initiative’s rapid expansion over the past few months.”
The teens credit their Advisory and Management Committee members for teaching them how to streamline their delivery process and expressed gratitude toward the 50 volunteers in Essex, Morris, Union and Somerset counties.
One of 10 volunteers who reside in Livingston is Jared Berelowitz, Area Manager of Livingston’s Delivery Now program and another Diller Teen Fellow Alumni, who said he is pleased to have made an impact during the pandemic.
“Deliver Together allows me to make a difference during a time when my community is most vulnerable,” he said. “I’m thankful for this opportunity to work together with my friends to leave a positive impact of the community.”
Koppel, another devoted Livingston volunteer who has previously served with The Friendship Circle among other organizations, joined the efforts of Deliver Together when his classmates told him they needed Livingston volunteers.
“I felt that I made the largest impact in helping a 93-year-old Livingston resident who lives alone with her shopping and errands,” he said that he was glad he was “able to show her that she truly has community members looking out for her.”
Fellow Livingston resident Matthew Mendelsohn, who also volunteers for Reading Reflections to help promote literacy, said he was “immediately drawn to Deliver Together because it fights the hardships brought by COVID-19 by helping community members in a meaningful and safe way.”
“Many people in the surrounding communities are afraid to go to the supermarket because they are at elevated risk, and Deliver Together provides an avenue to have groceries delivered right to their doorstep in a timely fashion and free of charge,” he said. “This is a tremendous organization made up of truly special individuals, and I am so glad to be a part of it."
According to the founders, the objective of Deliver Together is to work with local governments to help more people in New Jersey and to expand to other states. The teens also seek to help boost local businesses as the organization continues to grow.
Community members are encouraged to make monetary donations to Deliver Together through the organization’s GoFundMe page.
“The funds have enabled us to maintain our website, purchase organizational apparel and increase our outreach,” said Hollander, adding that some funds are used to reimburse mileage costs to volunteers who need it.
For more information about volunteering in Livingston, contact email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.