April 7, 2018 // Local

CANstruction feeds the hungry

Glenbrook Mall in Fort Wayne will host Community Harvest Food Bank’s annual CANstruction contest on April 20-29. Focusing on the theme “Decades,” 12 area schools will build structures made from unopened cans of food that will later be donated to the Community Harvest Food Bank.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School CANstruction team members, from left, Bella Gerardot, Jose Solis, Paolo Raloz, Macy Moser and Arturo Wisbrun-Rodriguez move part of their cans to a prebuild location. St. Elizabeth “prebuilds” their entry in Glenbrook Mall’s annual CANstruction contest, which benefits the Community Harvest Food Bank. — Emily Diehm

The categories of Best Meal, Best Use of Labels, Structural Ingenuity, People’s Choice, First Honorable Mention and Jurors’ Favorite will be awarded a $1,000 check that can be used for the following year’s build. Winning teams may also be eligible to compete nationally. Awards are also repsented in the categories of second Honorable Mention and Most Cans in Structure, but a cash prize does not accompany them.     

“It’s our way to help the community, as well as build and work on teamwork skills among our students and staff,” said Jodi Jump, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton teacher and Canstruction adviser. “Everybody wins.”

Last year, the local CANstruction contest brought in enough food to serve 61,359 people. This result is due to the time and effort offered by volunteers who want to help ease Fort Wayne’s hunger problem. Their hearts are as big as the structures they create.   

“I think it’s important that our school community, and everyone, recognize that there is hunger in our city and that we all need to do what we can to help,” said Jump.

Seventh-graders Keaton Ueber, Arturo Wisbrun-Rodriguez and Jose Solis work together during the prebuild to create the wall that will eventually display Wayne Gretzky’s number in the CANstruction competition. This team worked for over a week after school. “We want to feel really prepared on build day,” said team member Abby Spoltman.

According to Jump, about four months of effort goes into this one day of competition.

“There have been years where we’ve built a test structure in the aisle of grocery store to make sure cans stack and that the colors are perfect,” said Jump. “I’m sure that people thought we were crazy, but it’s all for a good cause.”

One concern team leaders had while transporting cans from local stores to the school for practice was bottoming out their vehicles. The cars were overloaded, carrying hundreds of pounds each trip.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton CANstruction advisers Deb Brough, Emily Tomlinson, and Kristin Spoltman have made nine trips each to local grocery stores to pick up supplies. They have unloaded and reloaded the same cans twice.

Brainstorming for the CANstruction build begins when the year’s theme is announced. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s CANstruction advisers and team members collectively decided on what to create and how. This year, working with their assigned theme, the 90s, their structure will consist of Sonic the Hedgehog, a pager, Michael Jordan’s basketball number, the cell phone, the gold Olympic rings, Elmo, a Nintendo logo, the AOL web address, Wayne Gretzky’s number 99, and a cross. The cross represents the 1998 merger of St. Joseph and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton schools. 

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s build consists of 4,108 cans.

Five years ago, Brough and Jump’s eighth-grade classes were volunteering at the Community Harvest Food Bank when Jump was approached with the idea to enter the contest. At the time they accepted the challenge, but did not know what they were in for and had never heard of the competition.

“Through trial and error, we have sorted out the wrinkles, learned from our experiences, and are ready for the challenges of our next build,” said Jump. “The students anxiously await the results of the community vote.”

The school and parish are asking everyone to get involved and to vote. There are two ways to do so: Individuals may bring in their own cans to place in designated bins in front of their favorite structure, or voting is also open online. Voters can purchase 1 vote for $1. The team that collects the most cans, after combing onsite donations and online votes wins people choice.

As the only school in the diocese participating in this event, Spoltman encourages everyone to “come out and vote for St. Elizabeth.”

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School’s CANstruction team will begin their build on April 20. Voting opens the morning of April 21 and judging will also take place then. Voting is open to the public and will close April 29.

“It makes senses that our Catholic community is involved in something like this,” said CANstruction team member, seventh-grader Remmigton Miller. “We are helping feed the hungry, a mission God calls us all to do.”

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