Priya and Nisha Chatwani

Manhattan Beach residents and college students Priya and Nisha Chatwani have launched LA Helping Hands to match those at high-risk of being infected with the coronavirus with low-risk individuals who can assist with essential tasks. (Photo submitted)

Mira Costa alumnae and college students Priya and Nisha Chatwani started the organization LA Helping Hands, which matches high-risk individuals with low-risk volunteers who can help assist with essential activities including buying groceries or picking up prescriptions, during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Priya, a Stanford University senior said she was home in Manhattan Beach during spring break “thinking about ways that I can help out to be useful” when the idea for LA Helping Hands was formed.

Sister Nisha is a freshman at USC and another founder, JJ Ram, is Priya’s boyfriend who recently graduated from Stanford and works at Facebook.

Priya said the most challenging aspect so far of running the nonprofit is “getting the word out.”

“For young volunteers, it's been pretty easy to post on social media, but getting the word out to people who are at higher risk has been more difficult,” Priya said. “So we've been calling churches, senior centers.”

People who are over 65 years old and are immunocompromised in any way, can ask for assistance by visiting lahelpinghands.com, or by calling (424) 279-8544.

Volunteers, who are under 65 years old, low-risk and healthy, can reach out at the same website or phone number or email LAHelpingHands2020@gmail.com for additional questions.

Priyani said the group has recently expanded to Santa Clara County (SCCHelpingHands.com and Tahoe (TahoeHelpingHands.com).

The siblings also received a COVID-19 rapid response grant from Peace First, which supports youth who are trying to respond to the pandemic in a positive way.

Contact this reporter at mhixon@tbrnews.com or on Twitter @michaeljhixon.com.

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