Three years ago, we came to the realization that it had been awhile since we’d last gathered all our old friends together at once. Christmas and Hanukkah were near, and so, after a bit of discussion, we decided to cook up a big holiday dinner and invite as many friends as we could feed. Then we had an idea: why not charge a couple bucks “admission” and donate the proceeds to charity? It was easy, it was feasible, and there was just no reason NOT to.
A few weeks later, “Aaron Horwitz and Bryan Wiedenheft’s 1st Annual Post-Thanksgiving, Mid-Hanukkah, Pre-Christmas Feast of the Year Extravaganza” came to fruition. We invited twenty-two of our dearest friends and charged ten bucks a head. We cooked up a huge holiday-style dinner. We ate, drank and reminisced, all in the name of charity. From a social standpoint, the event was a big success. From a financial standpoint, it was mediocre at best. After we reimbursed ourselves (and our parents) for the costs of food, we were left with a little over $100 to donate to our charity of choice, School on Wheels. Our intentions were noble, but it was hardly enough to make any kind of difference. Next year we vowed to do better…
In December 2007, we welcomed 45 guests to the event (shortened the name to simply “The Feast”) and brought in a band to perform. We upped the ‘preferred donation’ to $15 and again cooked a huge amount of food. The response this time was overwhelming. Buzz had been building since last year’s Feast. Now, people were thrilled at the chance to donate, and many offered more than the $15 minimum. The event was a massive success on all accounts; when all was said and done, we raised just over $1000 (a 500% increase from the year before), with all proceeds going to the vastly underfunded Lighthouse Orphanage in Cambodia. Since our dollar stretches so far over there, that $1000 was enough to provide fruit and vegetables for all 72 of Lighthouse’s orphans for an entire year. We were elated, and we learned something invaluable that day…
…people are charitable by nature. They do want to help out when they can. Many just need the door opened for them. And it was on that belief that we started planning last year’s “Feast 3.0″ and officially founded our new organization: ‘Who Will We Will’.
2008′s Feast 3.0 was founded with the idea that if we extended people an opportunity to help, they’d seize it instantly…and it worked wonders. No longer an invite-only affair, we opened our doors to the public. Instead of cooking a small dinner for friends at a house, we threw it at a large public park and found a food sponsor (Fab’s Corner Cucina) to contribute lunch for our several hundred guests. We trained a hoard of new volunteers. We added a silent auction, brought in a DJ and a psychic to give free readings, and lined up some wild activities. When all was said and done, we pulled in over $7,500 in donations (a 750% increase from the year before!) and used that money to COMPLETELY fund the daily operations of the Who Will Orphanage in Cambodia for 11 whole months.
Amazingly, 2009′s “OktoberfeAst” (a play on the famed yearly German tradition) was an even greater success, pulling in over $10,000 in donations to go toward The Water Project, which is currently using our financial gift to construct two freshwater wells in villages and at a school in Southern Sudan that had never previously had access to clean, safe drinking water.
Oh and did we mention…we’re just getting started.