Across the country, a new brand of community movement has often started with an impromptu spreadsheet: neighbors signing up to to deliver groceries, walk dogs, and run various errands to help each other out during the coronavirus pandemic. But when the swell of volunteers rises, the forms can become unnavigable, cluttered with names and information.
A new website, Covaid, aims to provide a simpler platform for these neighbor-to-neighbor aid programs. Two computer science majors and longtime friends, Debanik Purkayastha of Johns Hopkins and Jeffrey Li of Carnegie Mellon, developed the resource in late March to match vulnerable residents with neighbors willing and able to help.
“There are a lot of elderly and immunocompromised people who are afraid to go out, afraid to go to grocery stores or run their daily errands,” says Purkayastha, a Hopkins senior whose second major is biomedical engineering. “We originally built this platform so people can go on the site and reach out for support.”