Inspired by past Project 300 drives, the students have strived to increase their number of cans collected every year. Project 300 began in 1975 by then-McCarthy Middle School social studies teacher, Al Thomas, who had an idea as part of the school’s bicentennial activities that year. He wanted to inspire his students to bring in 300 canned food items to donate to the local food shelter in time for Thanksgiving. To date 750,000 cans have been donated since its inception.
Forty-four years later, 23,627 cans were collected and donated to the Salvation Army of Lowell to be disbursed throughout the greater Lowell community.
“We try to educate, equip and empower our students to be giving and caring with others,” said McCarthy Principal Kurt McPhee. “Project 300 impels students to realize that their actions impact more than just themselves but the greater good of the community.”
Eighth graders take the lead in publicizing the weeklong drive, with a group of about 35 making posters to hang up around the school and passing out boxes to every homeroom. “It’s great community service and will build your confidence,” said eighth grader Naomi D’Souza.
McCarthy Middle School students are introduced to the cause when they begin middle school in fifth grade. Many are so excited to finally be able to volunteer for the cause once they reach the eighth grade.
Fellow eighth grader, Sritha Sithalam explained, “It was such a fun thing to do that includes all of our community working together. We created a poster and went to area grocery stores and asked people to donate. Then we went to family and neighbors to get cans, and some gave us money, so we purchased the cans with the money.”
“I just like helping people,” states Eshal Hussain. “This was the first way I was able to do that. To donate cans, we went to each class to explain what it’s about. We motivated people by giving prizes and contests. We also made bracelets. The class with the most cans will win a trip to McDonalds and to the movies. I’m not sure yet who won, but I’m glad we were able to motivate and get help from the other grades.”
“We couldn’t feed as many people without the help from McCarthy Middle School students,” said Dianne James, Case Worker at the Salvation Army of Lowell. “The students have worked very hard unloading the truck, bringing in the boxes, and sorting the cans. We’re very thankful for their kindness and contribution.”
Project 300 is one of the largest food drives in the state of Massachusetts.
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.chelmsford.k12.ma.us.