High school sophomores Ryan Spiegel and Jonah and Ben Gleeman are taking the wheel, metaphorically speaking, during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they’ve co-founded Doorstep Donations, a nonprofit that brings necessary goods to those struggling to support their families in the Hamptons.
When the Gleeman brothers were driving through East Hampton, noticeably absent were the day workers that typically gathered by the train station. It occurred to them that many individuals were out of work and the number of families grappling with finances was on the rise. That’s when they sprung to action with a concept that would allow community support while maintaining social distancing.
Upon reaching out to Spiegel and an old camp counselor, Diego Palomo, who is also a youth minister at VIDA Abundante New York Church in East Hampton, Doorstep Donations was born. It allows able households to place food and other necessity donations on their doorstep that then gets collected by the team at a scheduled time. Once in the team’s hands, they disinfect each item and put together care packages for those in need.
Doorstep Donations’ website officially launched March 14, and am email was sent out to a mass Hamptons network. The first round of donations included 17 pickups and over $7000 in cash with the help of VANY Church. As the weeks roll on, the support continues to rise.
“All three of us feel that volunteering to better the community is essential,” Ben Gleeman said.
This isn’t the first altruistic endeavor for the three young men. Prior to founding a nonprofit of their own, the Gleemans volunteered at Unitarian Church of All Souls, aiding the homeless community on the city streets, while Spiegel worked with the Association to Benefit Children. Additionally, Spiegel and Jonah Gleeman are part of a community service class at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx.
Together, they are members of the first generation to be forcibly homeschooled amid a pandemic in this technologicallu-advanced era. Rather than see their unique situation as a setback, they are viewing it as an opportunity to assist.
“Every generation faces challenges that they must successfully overcome,” Jonah Gleeman said. “Our challenge is dealing with the ramifications of this virus. The coronavirus was the impetus to our first realized recession — we were unaware of the 2008 crisis because of our age — and mass deadly attack. Our generation will come out stronger because of the virus’ repercussions.”
As trying as times are for many, there is hope. One Doorstep Donations delivery went to a family of 12, which included eight children.
“The sight conjured a feeling of sorrow that children, the physical representation of innocence and purity, lack such basic essentials such as food,” Spiegel said. “Nevertheless, it also created a feeling of gratefulness within us — gratefulness for the opportunity to feed and support the children in need.”
“The intensity of this feeling was incredible,” he added. “We were just so grateful to be able to support our community. As we left the house, we saw the mother of the children. The look on her face that showed her appreciation amplified the feeling that we had all previously felt. This was definitely the most impactful moment of our Doorstep Donations experience thus far.”
The sophomores’ parents play their part too, driving the cars around as the young men do their work. Through camp connections, the nonprofit has already branched out to Port Washington, Scarsdale, and Manhattan, and is setting its sights on Toronto.
To sign up and learn more visit www.doorstepdonations.com.