Feeding the Fort: Country Day juniors step up

There are those who talk about folks needing help, and those who step up and help.

Count Fort Worth Country Day juniors Isabella Ray and Claire Nolan among the latter. A canned food drive they put together in late October, called Feed the Fort, raised more than $2,000 and fed more than 16,000 people as they collected funds and cans for the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

And now, they are hoping to amplify their efforts by hosting a second event in the spring, involving FWCD student organizations, though no official date has been set.

“Isabella and I were talking one day and we realized how lucky we are and how other people aren’t as fortunate,” Claire said. “After talking about it we decided to do something about the issue.”

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Isabella said the idea came to them because she has a 3-year-old brother. They started thinking about how sad they would be if he had to go hungry. Therefore, they decided to get a canned food drive together in order to prevent others from going hungry.

“This cause means the world to me because my hope is to major in education and help children that are less fortunate,” Isabella said. “A child should grow up knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“A developing child needs the nutrients and vitamins that food gives them in order to be physically and mentally healthy. The idea of helping families that are hungry is something that both Claire and I hope to have an impact on.”

Isabella’s grandmother, Elizabeth Ray, has worked with the Women’s Center for over 30 years. She has also been involved with The Food Bank off and on for about that long also, Isabella said.

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“She started the letter writing fundraiser and the Mah Jong tournament to support the children’s programs,” Isabella said. “In addition, my great grandmother, Jenny Richards was the co-founder of Gil Children’s Services, which does wonderful things for underprivileged children.”

Claire said she and her two older sisters, who have graduated, have been a part of a charity organization since junior high.

“We volunteer at a lot of different places mainly the women’s shelter, but putting this food drive together was the first time I’ve experienced anything like this,” she said.

“I think it is very important to be grateful for what you have and to be able to use what you have to help others in your community who aren’t as fortunate. I also feel that everyone in our community should have access to food.

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“If everyone can donate their time and resources to eliminate hunger for those who are suffering it would make our local community a better place. I enjoy giving back to our community and I get more out of it than I put in.”

And while Claire is uncertain of what she wants to do for a career, she is certain that she wants to help others at every opportunity.

“We are grateful for the dedication Isabella and Claire have shown Tarrant Area Food Bank and the hungry families we serve. Feeding the Fort was incredibly successful,” said the Food Bank’s Chief Development Officer Stephen Raeside. “It’s encouraging to see the fight against hunger being taken up by the next generation, as it will continue to be a critical need for years to come.”