New Yorkers step up to help essential workers with MetroCard donations

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons


New Yorkers are coming together once again in a time of need as MetroCard owners staying home due to the coronavirus are passing off their unused cards to essential workers who must still travel for work. 

Sophie Vershbow, a New York-based social media director, started the act of kindness by connecting people online.

As of March 27, 124 people had signed on to the initiative and by March 30 there were 228 confirmed matches and 35 pending, said Vershbow. 

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” she said. “People are eager to help any way they can from the safety of their homes.”

The system uses Google Sheets and has the MetroCard user enter their name, email address and card value into the spreadsheet. Then essential workers can contact the person directly with their physical address to claim the card. 

The system was designed for privacy, so the only exchange of addresses is between the donor and the recipient. 

“I’m aware that this isn’t the most high-tech operation and have no way to verify that essential workers are who they say they are,” said Vershbow. “But in times like these, you hope everyone is on the honor system and using a resource the way it’s meant to be used.”

She said that a few people have raised this issue to her, but that it doesn’t concern her in the slightest. 

The idea formed when she received her monthly unlimited pass in the mail via WageWorks that would sit unused due to the fact that she is currently self-isolating at home and doesn’t expect to be back in the office by the next time she receives her MetroCard. 

She sent out a tweet saying that she would offer her card to an essential worker in need, and the number of responses she received was overwhelming. 

“[I] received so many replies from other New Yorkers with MetroCards to donate that I knew I had to organize something,” she told QNS.

Vershbow said she grew up in the city and is never surprised by the generosity of her fellow New Yorkers. 

It’s been over a week since she tweeted the offer and said she was able to get the word out because of her “decent-sized” following on the social media platform, with 17,000 followers as of publication. She said she has mostly gotten the word out through the social media platform.

As of March 30 there were still 100 MetroCards waiting to be claimed.