News & Politics

Heroes of the Crisis: High-School Pals Who Are Helping Vulnerable Senior Citizens

Loudon County's Akshath Mahajan and Maneesh  Vallurupalli want to be a bridge between generations.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

This article is part of Washingtonian‘s feature “Heroes of the Crisis.” From medical professionals to social-justice activists to culinary stars, here are some of the people who have helped get us through these most challenging of times. Read about the 15 people making a difference during the pandemic here.

Akshath Mahajan and Maneesh  Vallurupalli
Founders, Project Support Initiative

How they’re helping: 

The Loudoun County 12th-graders run a network of volunteers who deliver groceries to senior citizens and the immunocompromised. “What we’ve built is a really good bridge between generations,” says Akshath.

Biggest win: 

The duo spent up to 30 hours a week doing outreach and making deliveries at the start of the pandemic. Now they’re able to delegate that work to 400 volunteers and chapter leaders in 21 states, the Philippines, and India. They estimate they’ve helped almost 2,000 people.

Moment of connection: 

When Akshath de­livered groceries to one of his mentors, whose wife is a three-time cancer survivor. “He was afraid to go outside because he didn’t want to potentially cause his wife’s death. That was when I knew that what we were doing was really big.”

Who inspires them: 

Their grandparents. “If I can give back to the elderly people in our society who’ve done so much for us, that motivates me to go further with this initiative,” says Akshath.

This article appears in the October 2020 issue of Washingtonian.

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Daniella Byck
Assistant Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied journalism and digital culture.