CHELMSFORD, Massachusetts (January 11, 2024) – Instead of going home for the day on Tuesday, Jan. 9, which was an early release day for Chelmsford Public Schools students, dozens of high schoolers gathered in the gymnasium to pack over 14,000 meals for local families in need.
A volunteer effort for Meals of Hope, the event brought together students from the National Honor Society, Get Involved Volunteer Everywhere (GIVE), Interact Club and the Class of 2024.
Working in teams at five workstations, the students filled bag after bag with ingredients for a fortified bean and rice casserole. The bags were sealed and labeled before being packed into boxes and placed on a pallet to be taken to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.
Jack Day, director of franchise development for Meals of Hope, said the non-profit organization was founded in 2007, and has helped provide over 100 million meals nationwide.
“There’s a lot of need in Massachusetts,” he said. “It’s hard to believe there’s any need in this land of abundance, but there is. Every county in the United States has food insecurity.”
Mr. Day and his wife, Ellen, were both on hand for Tuesday’s Meals of Hope event.
“What we’re doing here today is going to have a huge impact,” he said. “These kids are fantastic.”
Marian Smith, Chelmsford High School English teacher and advisor of both Class of 2024 and Interact Club, said 59 students volunteered for the event.
“It’s so heartwarming,” she said, noting that many of them were giving up what otherwise could have been a free afternoon in order to do good.
Junior Laasya Madivada said she was thrilled to be able to participate.
“It’s a big event that will help a lot of people,” she said, adding that it was inspiring to see so many of her peers show up. “It just shows that a lot of us are dedicated to doing volunteer work.”
Senior Eshal Hussain said she has participated in Meals of Hope events in the past and was eager to be able to help out again.
“I just like helping the community,” she said. “Humanity is still alive and we still care for one another, and that just warms my heart.”
Sarada Koppana, a sophomore at CHS, said she enjoys volunteering and is always seeking out opportunities.
“This is fun, and it’s helping people,” she said. “It seems tiring at times because you’re just standing there for two hours, but knowing the impact we’re going to make, it’s worth it.”
For each meal-packing event, a sponsor helps cover the cost of the ingredients; the sponsor for the event at CHS was JetSweep.
Some members of the Chelmsford PeeWee hockey team, for which JetSweep CEO Chris Barbanti is a coach, also dropped by to volunteer.
To learn more about Meals of Hope, visit www.mealsofhope.org.
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.