When the coronavirus crisis first began to snowball back in mid-March and cause all Bay Area schools to close, it left Menlo-Atherton High School junior David Cope with little to do except his schoolwork — now done from his computer at home.
But as summer vacation approached, the 17-year-old Cope realized he wanted to get outside and do something bigger.
“I felt bad because during this crisis I’ve only been doing schoolwork, and haven’t had to deal with any issues firsthand,” he said. “And there are a lot of people really struggling right now with the coronavirus.”
Cope was well aware of virus's effects on San Mateo County, with the numbers at 2,165 total coronavirus cases and 84 deaths, as of Sunday, and many at-risk groups living in fear.
He came across a Forbes article about an organization which had high schoolers like him deliver groceries to the elderly and immunocompromised (two groups that health officials have deemed at high risk of COVID-19).
The organization is called Zoomers to Boomers — a reference to the generations across which the food is delivered: Generation Z, or "Zoomers" (born between 1995 and 2010) to Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).
Much like grocery delivery apps such as Instacart, people order online and the teen volunteers deliver the groceries. But unlike the commercial apps, Zoomers to Boomers charges no delivery fee.
Cope wanted to contribute, and liked the idea of helping the older generation. “I felt like Zoomers to Boomers would be a good opportunity to give back,” he said. “If I was in that situation, I would hope for the younger generation to help me, too.”
He reached out to the organization’s founder, 17-year-old Danny Goldberg of Santa Barbara, who helped him set up a branch serving Menlo Park and Atherton. Cope enlisted six of his friends from Menlo-Atherton High School to join, and the group launched its local branch on Tuesday, May 26.
Cope said that Menlo Park and Atherton residents can enter their grocery store orders on the organization's website, and they will deliver from any local store. Groceries will be delivered within 48 hours — a notably speedy time, compared to some commercial services which have been taking several days due to high demand.
Zoomers to Boomers on the rise
Cope's local chapter of Zoomers to Boomers is just one part of a nationwide organization that has expanded quickly over the past two months.
Started in Santa Barbara in mid-March, Zoomers to Boomers has now spread to 26 cities, recruited over 300 volunteers, and made over 4,000 free grocery deliveries, according to the group's website.
Founder Danny Goldberg told Forbes that the inspiration came in part from his father, who is an ER doctor. "Almost every day, I saw my dad leave for work in the ER, and it inspired me to do more for my community," he said. "This led me to think about what I could do to help, and it was during this time that I realized that we had no systems in place to get the elderly food."
While Zoomers to Boomers has landed in Menlo Park and Atherton just this week, Cope said they have already begun getting orders. His team of volunteers from Menlo-Atherton High School includes head of operations Harrison Farrell, group leader Adam Todd, and team members Ian Duszynski, Rowen Barnes, Ben Witeck and Dylan Malloy.
Like Goldberg, Cope said that he was inspired by others who were making a difference in a time of crisis. "I really didn't want to be passive in my community," he said. "I would so much rather be an active member because I know that I have the power to be helpful and make an effective difference to those who need assistance."
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.