The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Can-do attitude boosts food bank
BY KATIE THISDELL
Somehow, orange packs of Ramen noodles would become a lampshade, topping a single column of cans.
Many, many more cans already formed a couch, complete with pillows made of bags of rice.
The living room scene was made completely from nonperishables, along with a little help from Velcro and tape. It was one of 11 structures built inside the Spotsylvania Towne Centre cqas part of the weekend Canstruction charity event, benefiting the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.
Other entries ranged from children’s book pages to a waving flag to a sports field.
Using cans as building blocks isn’t as simple as one may think, many team members said.
For Katie Ayala, the armrests on her couch (huge cans of green beans) collapsed a few times. That meant going back to add extra supports to the side to make it stay upright.
“It’s a little beat up. It’s time to get moving off that one,” said Ayala, owner of Off Da Couch Training.
Her business was the inspiration for the structure—made of more than 1,000 cans, primarily healthy foods such as tomato sauce and corn. She wanted the couch to share many messages—including that healthy eating can be done even with a tiny budget.
“A lot of people think you don’t have options,” Ayala said, referencing statistics linking poverty and obesity. “If you don’t have fresh produce, frozen and cans are a very viable option.”
As long as you choose the right cans, she said—not the highly processed ones that made up her lamp, the SpaghettiO’s and chicken and dumplings that she had hoped to not include.
But as she finished up the scene Friday evening, after building for nine hours the day before, she and client Richard Cook decided to add a lamp as a last accessory.
Teams made up of high school and community college students and local business and school employees did most of their work Thursday and Friday. The structures were on display throughout the weekend, and mall visitors could donate a can or $1 to vote for their favorite. Winners were announced Monday.
“My class worked like a machine,” Jessica Dieffenbacher said about her Learn and Serve students at Colonial Forge High School, the builders of the unsolved Rubik’s Cube featuring cans of five colors.
Learn and Serve is an elective class in Stafford’s high schools that requires many hours of community service, along with reflection on that work. The program coordinated the local Canstruction contest as part of a national food drive.
Students formed teams and recruited several others.
Each team had about a month to collect cans and design an entry.
Deana Hamlin, a senior at Brooke Point High School, says that of all her classes, most of which are Advanced Placements, the Learn and Serve course is the hardest. But it’s also her most rewarding.
Hamlin’s class partnered with students in the career and technical education program to make a soup bowl and a strike through the word hunger. Cans were primarily black and red, the school colors of the Black Hawks.
“It’s a lot more work behind it than you’d think,” said Hamlin, 18. “You learn that you can’t do it yourself.”
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975