In a Time of Need, Students Drive Up


During the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent economic lockdown, several students from the Chinese School of Chapel Hill saw local businesses and local residents struggling. They wanted to do something about that.

Here’s what they did, and why they did it, in their own words:

Matthew Lu
Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, many restaurants are struggling with business and are reliant on delivery. Many people cannot eat out at their favorite restaurants anymore and instead are stuck at home.

These restaurants are a very key element of our local businesses and without them, a big part of our community would be lost. As part of the community, me and five other student volunteers have been delivering food to families who ordered the food from local restaurants. This way, restaurants would continue to make money to survive, and people could still enjoy their food without risking their health.

This experience was great for me to contribute to the local businesses and communities and practice my driving, social distancing and wearing PPEs. I think this is a great way to make an impact on our community, especially during these difficult times.  

David Wang
To many of us, not being able to eat out anymore is an inconvenience. To restaurants, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is tremendous, because many families are scared to go out to eat.

To help both the local restaurants and the community, six high school students started the food delivery service via Chinese School of Chapel Hill to help deliver food for local restaurants in May.

My initial thought was to help out local businesses as well as gain more driving experience. Since then, we have helped about 10 restaurants in the RTP area deliver dinner to hundreds of families in Chapel Hill twice a week.

Each time, one person would be in charge of designing the delivery route for the other members and picking up food from the restaurant. Other team members would then follow the route to deliver food to each household. We would always wear masks and gloves when picking up and delivering food, so we could protect ourselves and the customers from contracting COVID-19.

As I have driven to different areas of Chapel Hill delivering food, I have noticed that Chapel Hill is much larger than I previously thought. I have driven down roads I have never seen before.

I also realized the food delivery service is not that easy. To create a pleasant customer food delivery service, I have to pay attention to food packaging, timing and delivery safety. Each time, I would make sure all food was packed well to avoid leaking, as well as prepare the most efficient route and check there was no traffic to avoid delays and finally leave food at the front door without any contact with the customer.

Through delivering food, we hope we have made it safer for our community, since people now do not have to leave their house and risk contacting COVID-19. We also hope that we have helped out local businesses during these tough times.


Neal Zeng
I believe helping these restaurants deliver food is not only a great learning experience, but also a great opportunity to help the community. So far, I think my driving skills have greatly improved with these hours of training. I feel like my turns have gotten smoother, along with my ability to recognize different traffic situations. As well as that, I’ve become a lot more accustomed to the car itself, and I’m more comfortable being in a driving position. Overall, this opportunity has given me much driving experience.

Secondly, I believe delivering food to help the community is a great thing, especially in a time of uncertainty like this. This experience is all in all a great volunteer job. However, I think it could be better if we expanded to more restaurants of different cultures and delivered to more people. I like this job and would definitely recommend it.


Peter Xu
As the daily routines of our cities shut down over the novel coronavirus, many small businesses are suffering as many of their customers stopped showing up and disappeared.

For me, I have personally not felt much of the consequences of the virus and its effects firsthand. Knowing that I can serve our local restaurants by delivering foods and help them stay operational feels fulfilling and satisfying.

Not only did I feel more comfortable each time I got behind the wheel, but I also got an insight into the logistic planning as well as learning to use mapping tools like Routific to our advantage.

This opportunity is great for all volunteers and benefits the community. It is a win-win for everyone involved.

Neo Zhu
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our customs and ways of life as well as negatively affecting our local businesses. We can no longer eat out at our favorite restaurants which now only offer takeout.

But the contactless pickup option may be troublesome to some customers.

In order to solve this problem, we decided to help do deliveries for these restaurants in the Triangle area. Contrary to third-party delivery services, which would take a part of the profit, our deliveries do not add extra cost to the restaurants.

Also, the delivery of the meals would not have been possible without the support of the residents who have been placing a great number of orders to help the local restaurants. Since early June, we have delivered more than 250 meals to families in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham.

As someone with their license, delivering the meals serve as a way for me to get out of the confinement of my house and explore many new places around my community.

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