Non-perishables to benefit Salvation Army Lowell Corps, Chelmsford Food Pantry
CHELMSFORD, MA (Dec. 8, 2022) – There will be thousands of full bellies this holiday season thanks to Project 300, the massive annual Thanksgiving food drive in its 47th year at Chelmsford’s McCarthy Middle School.
“There are many people still facing the impact of the pandemic, but now there is inflation and an increase in fuel and energy,” said Timothy Ross, Captain of the Salvation Army Lowell Corps. “Project 300 has a long-standing tradition whose impact will enable us to provide meals to over 600 families over the holiday season. They’re already boxed up and ready to go, which is amazing. We’re extremely grateful.”
Each year the goal for Project 300 is to collect more non-perishable items than the previous year. While this year’s output of more than 26,000 items is less than the 2021 total of nearly 33,000, the McCarthy school’s effort is nonetheless impressive and vital considering the current climate.
It’s a fact not lost on Eric Sullivan, a world history educator at McCarthy, and Thomas Gallagher, a math educator, both long-time organizers of Project 300. “When we went to look at some of the items that we were going to purchase, I was floored by how much a can of corn had gone up in the last year,” said Mr. Sullivan, in his 13th year at McCarthy. “I can’t believe that people are going to be able to afford food for their families over the entire holiday period, not just Thanksgiving, but including the winter holiday.
“One of the reasons that the numbers are not as high as last year is because the dollar doesn’t go as far as it did last year,” he added. “In addition, people are having a more difficult time donating because of the increase in prices. People need to take care of their own families first. And if you don’t get as much for a dollar, I think it’s a little bit more difficult to support a fundraiser like Project 300.”
Despite the final numbers, each year’s collection leaves a profound impression on Mr. Sullivan. “The numbers are absolutely awe inspiring when you hear them,” he said. “But it’s also very impressive when you watch the kids load the truck and how much food is going in there.”
Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Gallagher can take pride in the impact that 47 years of Project 300 has made.
Though this year’s final tally was slightly down, Project 300 has expanded its reach. For the first time, the Chelmsford High School senior class officers, along with sophomore Blake Downs of the BSA Troop 81, brought their own version of Project 300 to the high school, resulting in 1,553 pounds of non-perishables – enough to feed 1,200 people over the holidays.
“If you can get that and kids realizing their place in the greater community, I’d call that a victory,” said Mr. Sullivan.
As it does each year, the creativity behind Project 300 has only enhanced the mission. On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Brickhouse Pizza in North Chelmsford and the Brickhouse Center Grill each donated a percentage of all take-out and dine-in sales, the proceeds from which benefit the Chelmsford Food Pantry.
Poster and t-shirt design contests are among the incentives while prizes are given to the grade and the homeroom with the highest contribution.
Traditionally, it is the eighth-grade classes that have provided the largest contributions, but not this year. One sixth-grade homeroom contributed 4,485 non-perishable items (behind the efforts of a student who collected 2,700 items).
Official winners have yet to be announced.
“The sixth grade was probably the best grade in school. And the fifth grade stepped up as well,” said Mr. Sullivan. “It is exciting for us to see that the newer students to this school went out and they collected for the less fortunate. And it’s a good sign of what’s to come. We’re looking forward to the next couple of years with these youngers leaders getting ready to take over Project 300.”
To donate or find out more about food pantry services in Chelmsford, contact either of the following:
- Salvation Army Lowell Corps
- Chelmsford Food Pantry
- Merrimack Valley Food Bank
- Table of Plenty Chelmsford
About Chelmsford Public Schools
The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit www.chelmsfordschools.org.