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Leadership students worked hard to facilitate the successful donation of 238,000 pounds of canned food in 2016. This year, with a goal of 250,000 cans, executing the event is a harder task than ever. Many take the drive for granted as an M-A tradition. But before students donate even one can, leadership is hard at work organizing the largest event of the year.

Top: Carly Jespersen, Fernando Bonilla, David Garcia Manela, Michael Amoroso, Eva Neumann, Jillian Mullarkey, Erin Noble, Maddie Fesas. Bottom: Max Gerber. Credit: Sarah Marks / M-A Chronicle.

It was a wet morning when cars began to drive towards the back of the parking lot, ready to unload thousands of cans. The cars are surrounded by enormous empty crates and leadership students sporting premature holiday pajamas. “They’ll be filled by next Tuesday,” said Michael Amoroso, leadership teacher, motioning to the crates surrounding us. “At least, that’s the hope. By Thanksgiving, we have to rearrange these crates, because they’re so full.”

 

Preparation for the canned food drive starts well before the colorful posters fill the walls of Pride Hall. “Somewhere around late July, our PTA moms that help us out got all the stores confirmed. Then, around mid-October, there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on with Second Harvest Food Bank,” said Amoroso.

Sophomores pose in front of Trader Joes while canning. Top: Emma Dougherty, Nicole McCutcheon, Avani Anne, Jaime Durden, Zoe Buck. Bottom: Elena Maghsoodnia, Karina Takayama, Lindsay Atkinson. Credit: Kylie Wong.

 

Amoroso explained the history of the event. “The M-A canned food drive has been going on since 1999. Coach Parks started it. At its first year, he raised 5000 cans.” Now, as of 2017, the school is looking to multiply that starting amount by 50. But Amoroso told his students that “even if we don’t raise our goal of 250,000 — even if we raise 150,000 pounds of food — that’s still 150,000 pounds of food. A goal is just a goal. If we get it, we get it – if we don’t, we’re still feeding the hungry.”

Last year, Second Harvest Food Bank spread the surplus of canned food as far north as Marin and as far south as Gilroy. As Amoroso describes it, “our goal is out-of-this-world ridiculous.”

“Stuff like this- being here at 7:45 AM kinda sucks — but on distribution day, you’re like, ‘Okay. Now I get it, why we did that,” said Erin Noble, on the morning crew. “It makes everything worth it. My favorite part is distribution day, for sure.” Noble refers to December 2, when students put together bags of different supplies and distribute them to families in need.

Luis Franco gives a thumbs up. Credit: Michael Amoroso.

The canned food drive is arguably the most important event that leadership organizes. “It’s definitely the longest event… and It helps the most people,” said Carly Jespersen, a leadership student. “it’s one of the largest high school [canned food drives] in the country… it’s a pretty big deal. We beat Google and Facebooks’ totals last year.”

The last day to deliver cans is December 2 — hopefully, by then, M-A will have every crate filled to help the hungry. Students can sign up for canning in B-21.

 

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