A personal experience with family issues at a young age taught 15-year-old Kelly Gore about the value of family support programs and led her to think about others who could benefit from such help.
Gore, a Staples High School sophomore, decided to raise funds for a group called Family-to-Family, and she did so in a fun and an age-appropriate way, inviting some of her friends and classmates to join her. Gore organized "Stride With Pride for Family-to-Family," an evening of women's and men's fashions and teen-inspired tunes.
The event, held Saturday at the Westport Women's Club, attracted about 60 people, raising money through an entrance fee and an auction.
Gore's family did not receive help from Family-to-Family, a Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.-based non-profit organization that fights hunger nationwide and provides resources to needy families to help them get back on their feet. Gore said she learned about it through other fund-raisers and wanted to call attention to its good work.
"I realized there are people who have it worse. It makes me feel better that someone across the country could have similar experiences, but worse, and I'm helping them through this event," Gore said.
While the teens had fun modeling -- the females wearing clothing from LF Stores, and the males donning attire from Jack Wills -- and performing, many of them said their consciousness was raised as well. "It's a cause that's really important to her. I didn't know much about (Family-to-Family) before Kelly asked me (to participate) but I looked it up and learned more about it," said junior Grace McDavid-Seidner, 16, one of the models.
"It's a great opportunity to help out. You're only giving. You're not getting anything in return, and it's fun too," said senior Annabel Burchill, 18, who also modeled.
Junior Ryan Shea, 16, said he was glad to model the Jack Wills fashions for his friend Kelly. "Since it's for charity it just felt right," Shea said.
Others, like sophomore Thomas Bonner, 15, played double duty. He performed the Beatles' "Oh Darling" with Amanda Horowitz in the musical part of the event and later he modeled in the fashion show, as did Michael Sixsmith, 17.
Many of the performers were members of Wreckers in Tune, a new Staples High School music club. Some performers played instrumental pieces like violinist Katie Zhou, 14, a sophomore.
Others offered their vocal talents including The Sophomores, a male and female duo who sang five songs, among them Tom Petty's "Free Falling." Model Jamie Yarmoff, a 17-year-old senior, sang "The Minnow and the Trout" accompanied by Carlie Schwaeber, 17, on the keyboard. Schwaeber did not model, but her sister Sami, 17, did.
Yarmoff said they selected that particular song because of its reference to various "enemies" in the natural world lending a hand to each other. "We are tied in history, connected like family ...What we're made of was all the same once. We're not that different after all," some of the lyrics said, which Yarmoff fond appropriate for the event.
Gore, who was too busy serving as event host, was not sure how much she raised and she set no particular goal, But depending on the final tally, Gore said she plans to host Stride with Pride for Family-to-Family annually.
Meg Barone is a freelance writer.