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Local developers create website to link volunteers with people in need of help

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volunteer coronavirus assist

MADISON (WKOW) -- During the pandemic we've been seeing people step to help others who are at risk.

And one new effort is working to bring those in need together with volunteers who want to help.

For many older people and those with compromised immune systems, getting groceries can be their biggest daily challenge.

Farhan Ahmad knows that all too well, with his aging parents.

"We're fortunate enough that I can always do the grocery shopping for them but as I started looking around, I started noticing that plenty of other folks weren't in that same bucket," he said.

That's why Ahmad gathered a group of local developers to put together a website to link volunteers with those who need it.

"Our goal is to reach out to the people that are at risk, regardless of if they can pay for groceries or not, so that they're safe and they can stay at home and have someone deliver the groceries to them," Saad Baig, another developer, said.

They found that people in the CDC high risk group might not take advantage of these types of services because they feel it's only for financially needy groups.

The website is intended for people who can afford their own groceries but can't go out because it would put them at health risk.

However, if you can't afford groceries, the designers say they will try their best to connect you with the services that can help you with that and have already done so on multiple occasions.

"We were able to connect with the local Muslims that were doing fundraising for things like that," Ahmad said. "So they were able to help with fulfilling the financial component of it and also deliver the groceries."

The way the website works is people in need of assistance say what they need and where they're located.

If their chosen grocery store allows people to purchase items over the phone, the closest volunteer can then pick that up.

Otherwise, the volunteer has to buy them and get reimbursed.

"We recommend that they don't use cash, that they pay using an online method, and then the volunteer is dropping the items at their doorstep without actually making contact," Baig said.

It's not just for Madison residents, but for it to work you're going to need volunteers in your area. Developers say most volunteers are in the Dane County area.

"The intention is to provide a system across the U.S. at least," Ahmad said.

The website also allows people to get emotional assistance.

While the volunteers aren't necessarily mental health professionals, the hope is to give people someone to talk to and not feel as isolated.

The website has been running for about a week and they already have almost 200 volunteers ready to help.

But there are more volunteers then there are people asking for help.

The whole website is a volunteer creation, and Ahmad says they're looking for people who can help with creating updates, graphic design and marketing to get more people help.

While not intended for the financially needy, Ahmad says they're still raising money to support those people if they ask for help. You could support that here.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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