STONINGTON – Local students are gearing up to help fight hunger. A Hunger
Awareness Concert is scheduled for October with proceeds benefiting local
social service agencies. It is being sponsored by the Students in Action
Committee at Wheeler High School and partnered with the LUNCH Ensemble.
LUNCH, an acronym for local united network to combat hunger, created by
state troubadour Bill Pere, is a group founded in 1989. It is now made up of
professionals from the Connecticut Songwriters Association and about 30
to 12th grades, in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
Performing throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island, LUNCH partners with
various schools and churches to perform concerts to benefit social service
organizations. To date they have raised $700,000 and have involved more than
2,000 kids to show them the difference they can make in the lives of others.
the legacy of singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, they perform his songs and
believe in his desire to help those in need. The October concert is the
first in the series that are scheduled to be performed throughout the school
year ending at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven in June with the original
Wheeler High students Maggie Luckhardt and Mackenzie Robert have designed
posters for the benefit. The two students are the SIA members coordinating
The primary social service agency to benefit from the proceeds is the
Pawcatuck Neighborhood center, according to Gisele Buehler, who is involved
with promoting the event. Others in the area will receive some proceeds as
Maggie Luckhardt, Mackenzie Robert and Katie Castagno 'put their heads
together' at Wheeler High School.
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it’s wonderful of Bill Pere to make us one of the beneficiaries of the
concert proceeds,” said Vicki Anderson, executive director of the center.
Pere was on the original Hunger Task Force aimed at educating the public
that people are “food insecure,” 365 days a year, not just during the
holidays. The term “food insecure” refers to not being certain where one’s
next meal is coming from.
More than 900 clients are served by the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, and
they are primarily working families, said Anderson. She describes this
involvement with the concert as “an enormous help.” “It’s a local problem
with a local solution. We can’t do it without the help of the community,”
said Anderson. Buehler got involved when her daughter Anna became interested
in doing some community service and found a venue that enabled her to make
use of her musical talent as well.
“The students from all areas tend to take an interest in LUNCH because
they can see the direct benefit to the community and they stay because it’s
so much fun,” said Buehler.
Katie Castagno, a junior at Wheeler High School, has been involved with
LUNCH since she was in the eighth grade.
“It’s a great program for a great cause,” said Castagno. “I really hope
the concert will raise an awareness of hunger and homelessness, especially
in North Stonington where people don’t realize what it means to be hungry,
especially the kids. We want to get the message out there.” The concert is
being held in the Gymatorium at Wheeler High School on Route 2, on Oct. 20
from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids, and $25 per
family. Tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting any SIA
representatives at Wheeler High, or the Choral Director Holly Schmidt.
Maggie Luckhardt, Mackenzie Robert and Katie Castagno up a
tree behind Wheeler High School. The girls, who are all in eleventh grade,
are wearing LUNCH T-shirts.