High School Heros

Giving Back | contributed by: The DARIEN HIGH SCHOOL CHAPTER of FEEDING 500 

Homelessness is a problem that plagues many communities, but in Fairfield County, a group of high school students is doing something about it through Feeding 500. Feeding 500 is a volunteer, high school student-run organization that works with the Norwalk-based Open Doors Shelter. Their mission is to prevent homelessness through monetary, food and clothing donations.

Feeding 500 was founded by Oliver Tuff in 2020 in New Canaan and made its way to Darien in 2021, when Darien High School (DHS) student Lucy Brennan brought it to her classmates. After she graduated last year, the mantle passed to current presidents, DHS seniors Rachel Greca and Caroline Young, and their vice presidents Willem and Gerrit Davidson, who are seniors as well. Together, the four comprise the Feeding 500 Darien executive board. 

During an Open Doors internship last summer, the presidents reworked the chapter, building on past successes to give it greater staying power. This revamp included expanding from four members to more than 25 and planning a robust calendar of fundraising events including Carving that Counts, a successful pumpkin-carving competition they held at Grove Street Plaza last fall. 

“We partnered with David Genovese and his Corbin District businesses to pull off the competition,” said Rachel. “People paid an entry fee to carve the pumpkins and we also had baked goods, merchandise and a silent auction with all prizes donated from Corbin District businesses and the YMCA. The pumpkins were donated by Nielsen’s Florist,” she added.  

Since last August, Feeding 500 Darien has raised more than $16,000 and donated over 1,050 pounds of food to the Open Doors pantry.

This organization is strong in more than just numbers, however. When asked why they participate in Feeding 500 outside of resumé building, the executive board spoke of its value as an opportunity to meet new people, connect with their community and fill a need in a city right next to them. Additional pros include  include the opportunity it provides to overcome challenges similar to ones they might face in future careers. For example, as they reach out to local businesses and others for support, it’s not uncommon to be brushed off. Feeding 500 Darien has learned to clearly articulate ideas and persevere and is grateful for how supportive Darien residents, businesses and organizations have been  of their efforts.

“This is a group fueled by the vibrant spirit of high school students who are making a profound impact on our community,” said Maria Davis, development and donor relations manager at Open Doors, and the primary contact for Feeding 500.

They operate daily without consistent adult oversight; This has trained the executive board to effectively communicate with large groups of people and important business contacts, and delegate the copious amount of work. Feeding 500 Darien runs a tight ship poised to continue to strengthen and grow. 

With fundraising events planned out through next July and a search underway for the next executive board of confident, responsible, driven leaders who will be able to continue its mission, “We hope this organization stays strong for many years to come,” said Rachel.

To learn more about Feeding 500 Darien, contact feeding500darien@gmail.com.