They call themselves Invisible Hands, a group of volunteers who want to help fellow New Yorkers without getting too close.

“It’s been inspiring to see people trying to pull together in the current state of affairs which feels like is trying to pull us all apart,” said co-founder Liam Elkind.

With all New Yorkers being directed to stay home as much as possible to guard against the spread of the coronavirus, co-founder Simone Policano says she had an idea to help older people who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The 25-year-old thought she and her Millennial and Generation Z friends could deliver groceries and medication to older people at their homes, for free.

After taking the idea to Facebook last Thursday, Invisible Hands had a website and 1,500 volunteers by Tuesday.

Now, anyone can request the service through the website. Policano connects a volunteer with a person in-need, who can either pay the store in advance or reimburse the volunteer for items purchased.  

And it’s not only delivery; it’s also social interaction over the phone.

“People are feeling lonely right now,” said Elkind. “We have all of our volunteers engage with these people. Talk to them. A lot of them have been cooped up in their houses all day and haven’t talked to people. So, we ask, ‘Hey, how’s your day going?’”

Policano says she’s surprised by the number of people who have signed up to help.

“Especially in New York where people are very much head down, got to get to work, we have a reputation for being more brusque and not as friendly, per se,” Policano says. “But listen, I have a spread sheet of 1,500 people that would prove you wrong.”

While the blooming volunteer effort is getting off the ground, Policano and Elkind say they hope their existence is short-lived.

“We would love nothing more than to exist to help out for the next couple weeks or a month and then have conditions change enough that we’re rendered obsolete,” they say on the website.