Swampscott High School’s annual “Stretch Award” canned food drive

Megan Mentuck

At Swampscott High School, the annual “Stretch Award” Canned Food Drive offers students a great opportunity to give back to their community. The Canned Food Drive is run by Ms. Balliro, an art teacher at Swampscott High School. This is her fourth year organizing the event, which she started in memory of her husband, “Stretch” Balliro, who passed away. “Stretch was a pharmacist and a volunteer girl’s basketball coach,” Ms. Balliro said with regard to Stretch’s influence and prevalence in his community.

Ms. Balliro is also in charge of the Interact Club at the high school, which is involved with many different volunteer projects, including the “Stretch Award” Canned Food Drive. “The Interact club helps out with this (the Canned Food Drive) and we are involved with a family shelter in Lynn and we’re also going to have a collection of winter clothes for Rosie’s Place in Boston,” Ms. Balliro said. Besides Interact members, there have also been many faculty members that helped out with the project this year. “We started organizing the food drive about two weeks ago and Ms. Sol Gomez was very adamant about helping out,” Ms. Balliro recalled. They began by getting donated bags from Stop & Shop and attaching flyers to the bags. “There were some times that Ms. Sol had her students help correct the flyers and staple them to the bags at the end of class,” Ms. Balliro said.

There are other ways students can contribute to the Canned Food Drive, even if they aren’t in Ms. Sol’s class or are involved with the Interact Club. People can take home a bag and contribute as many canned goods as they are able to. The Food Drive ends on wednesday, November 23rd, when all the proceeds will be taken to the Swampscott Food Pantry. “I feel really strongly that people will donate because when you do something for someone else, it makes you feel proud of yourself,” Ms. Balliro explained, saying she was confident that this year would be successful.