Person of the Week
Tory Teto: Raising Spirits—and Money—for Food Pantry
A 14-year-old DJ, Tory Teto can be spotted spinning tracks from the back of his dad’s pickup as they travel through East Haven, brightening moods and raising funds for those in need of assistance or support. (Photo courtesy of Chris Teto )
Tory Teto, 14, has been helping others through the coronavirus pandemic and bringing joy to the town of East Haven by DJing in the back of a white pickup truck to lift the community’s spirits while also collecting money to support the local food pantry and essential workers, including first responders.
The soon-to-be 8th-grade graduate began DJing last year.
“I’m not a pro at it yet, but I’m learning more and more every day,” he says.
And when East Haven organized a motorcade in April and he was asked to DJ in the back of his father Chris’s truck, he jumped at the chance. Now, he and his father drive through town multiple times each week as Tory DJs, playing some hits, some classics, “a little bit of everything.”
Along the way, they collect donations. People on the street will flag them down and Chris collects donations while Tory keeps the tunes going.
In addition to regular routes around town, Tory has played some drive-by birthdays by request and even a wedding. At a birthday party, he received bags of groceries to bring to the food pantry.
The most popular song? “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. That’s the track everyone seems to connect with the most, according to Tory.
After collecting their earnings during the week, Tory will spend between $600 and $700 on groceries per week to take to the East Haven Food Pantry. Then, on Saturday, at 11 a.m., his family drops the food off. They’ve also dropped off a $500 check.
“They see a truck every Saturday at 11 and they all light up,” Tory says.
So far, with the additional help of his mother, Jodi Teto, and family friend Ed Gagliardi, who drive Chris and Tory in the truck, Tory has donated $2,350 worth of food and checks to the food pantry.
“I think it’s phenomenal what he’s doing and how dedicated he is to it,” his father says. “Honestly I don’t even think he understands the magnitude of what he’s doing.”
Tory’s efforts extend beyond the food pantry. He’s also working to lift the spirits of first responders and essential workers.
“I’ve been buying Police Department and Fire Department all lunches,” he says. “Just as a thank you for being heroes and working.”
Tory has also provided pizzas to other essential workers including employees of gas stations and veterinary hospitals. And other members of the community are starting to get on board with his efforts, Gia Marie’s Pizzeria has donated one pizza for every two that the Tetos have picked up, his dad says.
“I don’t have any intention of stopping anytime soon,” Tory says.
He hopes he can raise at least $5,000 for the food pantry.
“I want everyone to know that they’re not in this pandemic and crazy time around the world alone, we’re here with them too,” says Tory. “We’re all in this together.