Help for Households in Need

UWS teens create nonprofit to give back during COVID-19

27 May 2020 | 11:54

When COVD-19 arrived, a group of UWS residents launched a service to aid those who are financially affected by the coronavirus and struggling to support their families.

This initiative has accumulated more than $13,000 in cash donations from over 80 donors and provided more than 10,000 meals to those in need. This soon became a nonprofit and the kicker is, the founders are just 15.

At such a young age, Ryan Spiegel and two friends, twins Jonah and Ben Gleeman, created Doorstep Donations in March. Spiegel and Jonah Gleeman are sophomores at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in Riverdale and Ben Gleeman goes to Trinity School on West 91st Street.

The trio developed Doorstep Donations to make donating easy and accessible while maintaining social distancing during the pandemic. It allows individuals to place food or other necessities (such as toilet paper, toothbrushes, gloves, masks, etc.) on their doorstep to then be collected by a team of volunteers. The donations are picked up by people wearing protective gear, disinfected and then brought to a community partner where they are distributed as care packages for households in need. This is all done through their website www.doorstepdonations.com.

“I would say this has been a learning experience,” Jonah said. “We’re learning how to build the business from the ground up.”

The twins told the West Side Spirit how the group formed. In mid-March they were driving in East Hampton with their dad and noticed many people at the train station who seemed in less fortunate situations than themselves.

“We realized there are so many people that don’t have enough money to feed their family,” Jonah said.

Seeing this along with many people struggling throughout Manhattan and the five boroughs helped the boys understand that the pandemic has made people who already struggle hurt even more. So knowing they could not write checks for large amounts of money, the trio established Doorstop Donations.

“We’ve really learned about the poverty in this country and the virus has really amplified that,” Ben said.

Expanded to Other Cities

People go on their website, submit their name and address and outside of their house leave supplies that the kids pick up once a week. They then partnered with nonprofits Meals on Wheels and the Isaacs Center and drop off the packages with them.

Eventually, this grew and expanded to other cities with more volunteers and nonprofits in those places. Currently, they have locations in Manhattan, Scarsdale, Toronto, Montreal, Port Washington and the Hamptons.

So, for the past two months, they have continued to help thousands of people and hope to grow their reach into other communities, including the impoverished South Bronx.

The boys, who are in the process of being incorporated to a 501(c)(3), never imagined this would happened to them, but understand the impact they have made.

“It honestly feels great that I can help people,” Jonah said.

The kids explained with no nonprofit experience they are learning on the fly about the ins and outs of how to do this. From promoting their campaign on social media and constantly finding new partners and volunteers, it’s a lot of work, but they have enjoyed it.

Looking ahead, they boys do not plant to stop anytime soon and hope to continue even after the pandemic ends.

“There’s a lot more to be done,” Ben stressed. “We’re going to try and keep doing this.”

“We just want to get people to know that we want to facilitate the process for them,” Jonah added. “Donating is so easy.”

For more information, contact rspiegs27@gmail.com or doorstepdonationspress@gmail.com

Or call (917)-488-5661.

“We’ve really learned about the poverty in this country and the virus has really amplified that.” Ben Gleeman