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Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Westside Friends Volunteer Group Delivers Groceries, Medication Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

WEST LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — For many people, Safer at Home is a matter of life of death, which is why a growing number of volunteers have stepped up to offer a lifeline to those in need.

Priyanka Naik is a third-year medical student at the University of California Los Angeles who has seen a major shift in her education due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Not everything is by the book," she said. "A lot of it is just helping people in the community."

Naik has been picking up medication and delivering it to people like Lillie Kharrazi who lives with her 87-year-old mother.

"For me, I catch everything so, you know, that was very much a concern," Kharrazi said.

Kharrazi has arthritis and autoimmune disorders and cannot leave the house.

So Naik along with her boyfriend, Charley Jang, also grocery shop for Kharrazi.

"I just can't imagine sending them to the grocery in this kind of time, standing in long lines with their arthritis and all that," Jang said.

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The pair are part of a volunteer group called Westside Friends, founded two weeks ago by Cristin Lim and Annie Bickerton with a simple premise: neighbors helping neighbors.

"I think in our first few days we had over 100 volunteers, maybe something towards 200," Bickerton said. "We're now at over 600."

And for the future doctors, their efforts show there's more than one way to have a finger on the pulse of a patient's needs.

"This is a particularly lonely time for everyone right now and I think, especially, the people we work with are people who don't have their family members to do these things for them," Naik said.

"Beyond medicine, you have to treat the whole person," Jang said.

As for the recipients, those who can pay, pay. Those who can't are being helped through a GoFundMe campaign that's taking donations to help cover the cost of the service.

"It makes me feel like there really are good people in the world," Kharrazi said.

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