Yale student leads 2,700 making prescription and grocery runs amid COVID-19 crisis

"We completely did not expect this."

"GMA" celebrates the heroes who rose to challenges on the front lines, in the classroom, in their communities and beyond amid the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.

Family friends Liam Elkind, 20, a junior at Yale University and Simone Policano, 25, an actor, producer and Yale graduate, have come together in their city of New York, braving pharmacies and grocery stores to the old and at-risk.

In just days, their new organization, Invisible Hands Deliver, has 2,700 volunteers.

"We completely did not expect this," Policano told "Good Morning America." "In this time where we are stuck in our homes, it's amazing to see young people wanting to help."

Elkind and Policano launched a website where people can request medicine, food and supplies that will be shopped for and dropped off for free.

"When someone submits a request, we send a blast to everybody within the neighborhood: 'Who wants to take it?'" Elkind said. "They submit their address, order and preferred method of payment."

Volunteers make sure that when they help, they do so safely.

"We call ahead and say, 'Hey, I'm outside the door.' They can slide their money under the door, and we'll place the groceries outside the door," Elking told "GMA." "These are the most vulnerable members of our community and we want to make sure we're keeping them safe."

Elkind and Policano have included a protocol sheet on their website, which automatically gets emailed to individuals who sign up to volunteer.

Volunteers are also asked to follow several safety guidelines including CDC-approved safety precautions such as:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer
  • Refraining from touching their face after having been outside
  • Sneezing or coughing into their elbow
  • Practicing "social distancing" -- staying indoors, avoiding crowds, staying 6 feet away from other people if you have to go outside
  • Not only can people request item deliveries, but Invisible Hands also offers phone calls of encouragement to people longing for social connections.

    "I think providing them with [that] in this really uncertain and scary time is important as well," Elkind said.

    Wyatt Hill, 18, a New York resident, has volunteered to deliver groceries, medication and flowers.

    "I delivered to a woman yesterday, and it was her birthday. Just the smile on her face when I arrived made my day," Hill told "GMA." "I'm a senior in high school, and my senior year has pretty much been canceled, which really bums me out, but helping people really does help."

    Editor's note: This was originally published on March 20, 2020.