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South Side H.S. Cyclones hold ‘Pasta Party to Fill the Pantry’ food drive

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South Side High School’s student athletes are teaming up for a cause with their “Pasta Party to Fill the Pantry” initiative.

In lieu of their usual pasta parties and end-of-year celebrations, all canceled along with the spring season due to coronavirus, sports players are participating in a different kind of pasta party — collecting pasta, sauce and other non-perishable food items for those in need.

Cyclones Varsity Lacrosse Team player Matthew Melkonian, a junior at South Side, is leading the effort with the help of his teammates.

“I started out just donating with my family, but the number of families that came to get food every week kept increasing rapidly,” Melkonian said. “I realized that I needed to send it out to a larger audience to make a bigger impact. I reached out to some of my teammates, and they immediately agreed to volunteer.”

The donations will be delivered to the Experience Vineyard Church Food Pantry in Rockville Centre, which has seen a large increase of residents seeking assistance. During the pandemic, the pantry has seen a steadily growing need and now feeds about 200 families per week.

Cyclones teams can either donate as a group or arrange a no-contact pick-up at their individual homes. Donations will be collected on June 3 to mark the completion of the Cyclones’ spring season.

“I was missing my lacrosse season and my teammates,” Melkonian said. “Pasta parties were one of our traditions before every game, so I thought it would be a good idea to connect the two. [Carol] Roseto, our athletic director, helped me get the word out to all the coaches in the district.”

There are a few ways to participate in the food drive. To schedule a donation pick-up, email Melkonian at matthewmelkonian24@gmail.com. Residents can also leave the donation outside their home by June 3 at 10 a.m. to be picked up.

To make a monetary donation, visit gofundme.com/f/pasta-party-to-fill-the-pantry. All money raised will go directly toward purchasing food items for the pantry. It has raised more than $600 so far.