Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Young volunteers help the vulnerable during coronavirus crisis

Elan Bolender (right), 22, is a volunteer at Me’ver movement. He helps pack groceries and meals for those who are the most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis. Photo courtesy of Me’ver.

While crowds are lining up to buy toilet papers and groceries for themselves in an Upper West Side Whole Foods,  Daniel Peters, 21, is picking up fruits and vegetables for people he has never met. 

On the other side of the city in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Elan Bolender, 22, is packing meals and loading trucks to deliver them to households nearby.

Peters and Bolender are two of the 250 young volunteers from Me’ver Movement. Their mission is to help out those who are the most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis in New York City. 

“We’re not doctors,” Peters, a junior at Washington University in St. Louis, said. “But as students, what we’re trying to do is provide as much support to the people who need it as we can, for those who can’t leave the house.”

He decided to skip a spring break trip with the virus raging in his Manhattan home.

At first, Peters stayed inside playing video games all day. “Then I asked myself, I am young and healthy, so why not do something more valuable?” he said. 

Peters is part of a team of  ten young NYC residents who formed a Coronavirus Task Force and searched for other volunteers. 

Volunteers help shop for groceries, package meals and then deliver them to New Yorkers in need. The food is paid for by the folks who need it.

The Me’ver Movement is growing rapidly. Peters said that they are now planning to open new chapters in Los Angeles and Dallas to help people who need support during the pandemic.

Bolender started volunteering at Me’ver earlier this month. As a former member of the Israeli Defense Forces, he said that helping others is in his blood. 

“I knew that whether it’s within our army service or in school or anywhere, I just want to be able to lend the help we can to anyone that needs it,” Bolender said. “But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this specific volunteer group. Right now, there are so many negative things going on, so let’s take a step back and help one another to spread positivity.”

The World Health Organization said that older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. Over 1.4 million New Yorkers are currently aged 60 and older. 

Me’ver has gotten a lot of personal messages from those who received their help. Bolender said one of the most memorable experiences for him was his conversation with an elderly lady he delivered meals to.

“She told us she was a volunteer when she was young. And now she is older, it’s like a full circle,” Bolender said. “She said she saw herself through what we do, and she is really grateful for everything we’ve done.”

Me’ver is not the only volunteer organization that Bolender participates in. He also helps out at Hillel At Baruch to pack groceries for those who can not leave their homes.

“If not me, then who else? That’s a question I’ve asked myself for many years growing up,” Bolender said. “If no one is going to go out there and do these things, then I have to be that person.”



Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020

Fort Greene’s Dino adds outdoor dining to keep business flowing

Courtney Guarino September 19, 2020

COVID-19 hampers Fashion Week for photographers

Daniel Karel September 18, 2020

On the heels of revelation that Trump downplayed the covid threat, voters question rallies resuming

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 16, 2020

Overburdened mothers in Pakistan are relieved as schools reopens

Quratulain Tejani September 13, 2020

Students from different parts of the world struggle as schools reopen during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang September 12, 2020

Special needs students face learning obstacles during Covid-19

Courtney Guarino September 12, 2020

Back to school – COVID-19 style 

Isabel Beer September 12, 2020

The new normal for school life is abnormal in Michigan

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 11, 2020

California School District Parents and Teachers Clash About Return to School

Norah Hogan September 10, 2020

A tribute to the mask pioneers

Bohao Liu July 11, 2020

Air pollution in China rebounds to pre-COVID level

Hannah Zhang July 11, 2020

ICE takes aim at international students

Maria Abreu July 10, 2020

Chinese students trapped by new ICE policy

Zishu Sherry Qin July 10, 2020

New ICE policy adds more turmoil to the lives of international students

Shiyu Xu July 10, 2020

Lawsuits follow ICE policy barring international students who are taking online classes

Joanna Lin Su July 10, 2020

Economists say the US needs a bold, generous fiscal response. Congress is likely to disappoint. 

Ahmed Mohamed July 9, 2020

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020