Covid Cleanout: Darien teens collect, donate excess quarantine items to shelter
While many teens may be spending the last month of summer relaxing, boating or at the beach, three rising Darien seniors are spending it helping those in need.
The teens — Fionn Tierney, 18, Else Esmond, 17, and Sofia Chadwick, 17 — have started a drive called Covid Cleanout.
As part of the drive, they travel around town, collecting excess canned goods and non-perishables their neighbors may have overstocked on during the quarantine — and deliver everything to the Open Door Shelter in Norwalk. Open Door helps the homeless and working poor by providing shelter, food, clothing, education, employment, and other services.
The girls have already collected 30 bags of food and will now be collecting clothing as well.
They’ve created an Instagram account for Covid Cleanout that currently has about 200 followers. To donate, contact email@example.com or search Covid Cleanout on Instagram.
With a desire to give back to those in need, the girls came up with the idea for Covid Cleanout at the beginning of August — and they’ve been busy ever since, collecting items from people’s doorsteps.
They initially went door to door to every house on Fionn’s street, handing out fliers requesting the donations — this was about 70 houses.
“We got 14 donations the first week,” she said.
The girls have been friends forever and live right near each other. “Sophia and I were friends since second grade and Elsa and I since we were 3,” Fionn said.
“We bounce ideas off each other,” Fionn said.
Fionn attends Darien High School, Sofia goes to Forman School in Litchfield and Elsa is at Greenwich Academy.
Darien Running Company
Darien Running Company, a new business in town, is sponsoring the girls, and has donated $8,000 worth of running shoes and clothes.
Additionally, for the remaining Fridays in August, donations can be dropped off to Darien Running Company at 14 Brook Street between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The girls will then deliver everything to Open Door.
Fionn said many people, even in town, have been hit hard during the pandemic. She’s familiar with this firsthand since her father was laid off from his job several months ago.
“He was working for a startup and was traveling remotely from our house to California every week. It went under during Covid,” she said.
She said she realizes there are others who also lost their jobs who may need some assistance as well. That was yet another factor that motivated her to start Covid Cleanout.
Giving back, leadership
Fionn is not new to fundraising nor taking action for causes close to her heart.
She has raised over $1,000 for breast cancer research. Her mother died from breast cancer when Fionn was young.
She has also participated in several causes for which felt strongly. She helped run events for children through her involvement with the New Canaan Mounted Troop, a nonprofit organization providing horsemanship and equine care programs for youth in Fairfield County.
Additionally, as a student at Villa Maria middle school in Stamford, part of her student council campaign was to change the girls’ dress code policy.
“The policy did not allow the girls to wear pants, and in seventh grade, I asked an English teacher — who I still keep in touch with and often still helps me with writing — to help me write a letter campaign,” Fionn said. “The school held a meeting for the staff and PTA and voted to change the policy due to my letter to allow girls to wear pants like the boys to make our policy more equal.”
Keeping it going
The teens intend to keep the Covid Cleanout going until they graduate high school. They’re now collecting clothing listed on the “Wish List,” listed under “Donations” on Open Door Shelter’s website.
Currently, the top needed items, according to Fionn, are canned tuna fish, peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti sauce, rice, dried red or black beans.
“We will have a clothing drive once a week,” said Fionn, who would like to expand the reach of the drive. “We’re able to drive around Fairfield County, collecting items from people’s doorsteps.”
“I always found giving back to people is something I really like,” she added.