A free no-contact delivery system, Project Driveway, launched by three high school students, is aiding the most vulnerable citizens of Brookline, Needham, Newton, and parts of Boston.
Newton South juniors David Carmel and Anat Katz, and Brookline High School junior Eyal Arkin first came up with the idea at the beginning of April. “We wanted to help out the community during this unprecedented time,” they said in a statement.
Once residents create their orders online or via phone call, a volunteer in the area picks up the items at a selected grocery store and delivers them to the recipient’s driveway, according to the Project Driveway website. The system also sends notifications to the recipients so that they can check the status of their orders.
Within the first week since its launch, the organization received 85 orders and completed two-thirds of them with the help of more than 20 volunteers.
The co-founders said the community is responding very well to Project Driveway. “We’ve gotten countless messages from our clients... We’ve even gotten some incredibly generous donations which have been very helpful because we have incurred various unexpected fees.” Donations and tips will be invested back into the project and the rest will be donated, they added.
“Our most obstructive challenge is trying to fulfill the volume of requests we are getting with the little amount of volunteers we have who are willing to shop. We are getting around 20 orders per day but not all 20 volunteers can work every day. The best solution we had to this problem that would ensure people still correctly get their order would be teaming up with grocery stores in the area,” they said. “[These stores] would pre-package each order, and we could have volunteers go back and forth and in the best-case scenario, deliver upwards of five orders per day.”
The organization currently has one partnership with a store in Needham. “We are hoping many other stores follow Sudbury Farms’ lead and team up with us to provide the elders and immunocompromised get the groceries they need,” they added.
All deliveries follow strict cleanliness protocols provided by Mutual Aid Brookline, a newly formed group organized by individual volunteers, in order to prevent the spread of the virus and ensure the safety of the recipients, according to Project Driveway’s website.
“While at the store, the volunteer will keep a 6- to 8-foot distance from shoppers as best as they can to ensure a low risk of infection,” the website says. Stopping anywhere but the grocery store and the recipient’s house as well as direct handoffs of the items are prohibited for the same reason.
Recipients reimburse the cost of goods upon delivery through digital payment methods such as Venmo, CashApp, or PayPal in order to limit contact. Under rare circumstances, cash or check is acceptable as long as the process meets the sanitization guidelines. The website suggests contacting Mutual Aid Brookline if one’s unable to afford groceries.
Project Driveway also partners with the Jewish Student Union of NCSY, a national nonprofit Jewish youth group, as well as Zoomers to Boomers, a similar delivery project from Santa Barbara, CA.
More information is available at ProjectDriveway.org.
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