Tracking the spread of COVID-19 in the name of charity

There are many websites tracking the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but one George Mason University student decided to do more than mark the negative impact—he decided to make a positive impact in his community.

Awad Shahadat, a sophomore computer science major, is helping by collecting donations for local food banks through a virus-tracking website he created.

“I thought building a tool that people would find useful would encourage them to donate,” he said. “My goal is to raise money for food banks in our area because of the economic fallout from this pandemic. I hope people use this site to stay up to date on accurate and credible information.”

With the help of his brother, Mason alumnus Zobair Shahadat, BS information technology ’15, Awad created the website The site uses the most accurate and updated information available from Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Awad said his goal is to collect at least 5,000 nonperishable food items to donate. Everything he collects is being donated to ACTS in Prince William County, Virginia, and SERVE in Woodbridge, Virginia, and Stafford, Virginia. Both are emergency assistance organizations.

“We’ve collected about 1,400 items so far,” he said, adding that about 60% of his donations came from his Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers.

He said he is willing to pick up donations in person.

“It is absolutely refreshing to see students like Awad contributing to help feed those in need during this time of crisis,” said Philip Edney, program manager at ACTS. “There is a huge need for food assistance right now, and he stepped up to the plate to ensure people can be fed.

“At any given time, it could be any one of us in need of a helping hand,” Edney said “Knowing that there are caring people that want to help and actually make an effort to help, makes thing a little easier to cope with.”

Shahadat said he hopes that members of the Mason community will remember to take care of each other and the people the most in need during this crisis.

“We’re going through difficult times,” he said. “But stay strong.”