CSU food drive Cans Around the Oval finds success in 2012

Colder weather, hot cocoa and CSU’s Cans Around the Oval signal the beginning of the heaviest donation season for the Food Bank for Larimer County.

Last year, Cans Around The Oval provided the Food Bank for Larimer County with 66,900 pounds of food and raised $34,038.

One dollar buys four cans of food. SLiCE predicts that, in total, the event will raise 78,500 pounds.

The service receives increased attention from the community around Thanksgiving and Christmas, with various collection drives popping up around Fort Collins. But they all start after the university’s mammoth campaign to raise thousands of pounds of food, called Cans Around the Oval, which has donated goods to the Food Bank since 1997.

“Cans Around the Oval is important to get students involved in volunteering and giving back to their community and raise awareness about hunger,” said Emma Martens, a event coordinator for the Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) office.

The campus entity organizes the annual drive.

Audrey Moreno, an assistant coordinator of special events at SLiCE,  said that the Larimer County Food Bank would struggle to feed the high number of people who utilize their services without CSU’s canned food drive.

“Just the $40,000 alone (without the can donations) would allow us to acquire enough food to provide our clients with 160,000 meals,” said Heather Buoniconti, the Larimer County Food Bank Development Director.

One-hundred-thirty campus organizations registered to participate in fundraising alongside the Fort Collins community. About 100 to 150 volunteers showed up Oct. 17 to help unload and weigh the cans.

“I think, more importantly, it brings together so many different groups and people from our community and I think that’s what makes Cans Around The Oval such an amazing drive,” Buoniconti said.

One of the groups who joined CSU in their fundraising effort was Bethke Elementary School. Over the course of a week, the 400 students at Bethke Elementary conducted their own “Cans Around Bethke” drive. They lined the halls of the school with 2,400 donated cans and 29 student council members from fourth and fifth grade classes came to CSU to deliver the school’s donation.

“I really like giving back to the community,” said Adam Jabs, student council president and fifth grade student at Bethke Elementary. “We take so much and we’re not really grateful for what we all have so it feels good to give back to the community.”

Sarah Bruhn, a fourth grade teacher and student council co-sponsor, said it’s important for her as an educator to show her students that they can make an impact.

“Even though they are one person they can make an impact in their community and in their world,” Bruhn said. “When they see a gap there is something they can do to close it and it’s important for us as educators to help them see that.”

Bruhn used the food drive to teach her elementary classes about stewardship and how important it is to give back to their community.

“Part of being an educator in the United States today is making sure that we take care of the whole child, and it’s hard for us as educators to show them what impact they can have on the world in our school building so when we see an event happening like Cans Around the Oval, it’s really important for us to get involved,” Bruhn said.

Sarah Stephens, a volunteer programs graduate coordinator at SLiCE, said CSU students could benefit from the same community service lessons Bruhn has taught her students.

“I think freshmen especially have no idea what happens outside of campus. They don’t know that just north of here is one of the most poverty dense areas of Fort Collins,” Stephens said. “I don’t think they really get a grasp of how much poverty there is so I think Cans Around the Oval is a way we can tangibly give.”

Student Life Beat Reporter Kate Simmons can be reached at news@collegian.com.