With Demand Exceeding Supply at Table of Plenty, CHS Juniors Took Action
Ryan Clark, Bella Mirasolo (’23) raise $1,850 for Table of Plenty
CHELMSFORD, MA (Aug. 18, 2021) – The mission of Table of Plenty, a Chelmsford food pantry that serves those in need, resonates deeply with the Clark family. When Ryan Clark and his significant other, Bella Mirasolo, both rising juniors at Chelmsford High School, recently learned the shelves at Table of Plenty were quite barren, simple logic set in.
Let’s fill them back up.
“My grandmother (Kathy Clark) is on the board of directors, so I was aware,” Ryan said. “I wanted to give back. I’m very fortunate to be where I am and there are some people who aren’t and can’t even afford to have simple things.”
Ryan and Bella got to work asking friends for donations, however small, while Ryan’s mother, Heather Clark, put out their mission on social media with a Venmo address. In the ensuing days, donations came in at a steady clip and kept coming.
The result? $1,850 raised. Seven shopping carts full of non-perishable groceries purchased and delivered. Many families fed. All within 11 days. “We were definitely feeling it,” said Mary Moriarty, President of Table of Plenty. “The cupboards were pretty bare. When Heather told me that Ryan and Bella were doing this, it couldn’t come at a better time.”
Ryan and Bella spent most of Sunday, Aug. 8 canvassing three local supermarkets and filling the carts with non-perishable foods. They sorted and labeled every item. They also purchased 11 gift cards with $25 on each. On Tuesday morning, they brought the groceries at Table of Plenty’s pickup location at the St. Mary’s Church.
Ms. Moriarty couldn’t speculate how many people Ryan and Bella’s effort fed, but she did note that their donation was vital to the approximately 75-80 cars that line up to receive groceries each week. “We’ll do about 240-250 meals each week,” Ms. Moriarty said. “Some are families, some are individuals.”
Ryan and Bella returned to the church that afternoon, along with junior Joe Mitri and sophomore Nick Vosmakis (who volunteer each week), to assist with grocery pickup. “It was really inspirational for me, to see people smile at pickup,” Bella said.
What struck Ms. Moriarty about it was the attention to detail by Ryan and Bella. “They bought pancake mix and syrup and pasta sauce with parmesan cheese instead of buying a gazillion cans of food,” she said. “They were so thoughtful about it.”
Not just thoughtful, but economically savvy. Where items might have cost $1.75 at one supermarket, Ryan and Bella knew they could get it for $1.25 at another. “It made me feel good to see how far a dollar can get you,” Bella said.
Ryan’s mission has become a family mission. Kathy Clark, his paternal grandmother, has been a board member for eight years. Last spring, his sister, Ashley, a senior at CHS, raised $2,100 for Table of Plenty.
In time, both Ryan and Bella fully expect to do another large fundraiser/grocery run for Table of Plenty. Ryan hopes to pass it down. “I think we could definitely do it again. I’m only a junior,” he said. “I have a brother (Colin) who’s 12. Maybe he’ll do it.”
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.