As a former physician’s assistant, Darien resident Stephanie Riggio said she was feeling helpless for her former colleagues on the front lines fighting the coronavirus.

“Hearing the stories and knowing what the hospital staff — the people on the front lines — were experiencing and faced with was a harsh reality,” Riggio said.

In addition to those emotions, the Riggio family was dealing with their own “array of different emotions and uncertainty” with the abrupt shut down of schools and much of the rest of the town.

“One experience in particular left us feeling deflated, helpless and as if something had been stolen from us — which it was —was the ending of the DHS girls ice hockey season,” Riggio said.

Her daughter, Stella, as a freshman, meant the family was new to the team.

“The opportunity for them to begin their journey to the state championship was canceled just hours before they were scheduled to play. My heart broke for the entire team, the coaches and especially the seniors,” she said.

Riggio said she was sad she could not continue to cheer on the “amazing girls” and spend time with the Darien High ice hockey family “who I absolutely fell in love with.”

“A light bulb went on, I respectfully contacted the captain's mom's to share my idea and as I was hoping the immediate answer was yes. I drafted a quick email asking for donations of any amount from both teams which would then be used to support a local business in our community to feed the staff at Stamford Hospital,” she said.

She reached out to a friend, Maria McPartland, who is coordinating the donations and feeding of the staff at Stamford Hospital.

Riggio said the response to the email was immediate and the boys and girls hockey teams’ families had donated nearly $2,000.

She said she reached out to her “favorite deli,” Mama Carmela’s and her “dear friend” Frank Colandro.

Colandro suggested to not just make it sandwiches, and instead make full bag lunches. Riggio was able to coordinate four lunch deliveries with 100 bagged lunches each. They were delivered on April 23, April 28, April 30 and the last on May 4. Riggio said she is working on another date as more donations have come in.

“To say that I am overwhelmed with the response and the showing of support is a true understatement. Blue Wave Pride at its best! The one thing I know for certain being a member of the Darien community is that they sure do know how to rise up and offer their support when needed,” Riggio said.