Students turn canned goods into art to feed the needy

A local food pantry is teaming with dozens of Lakota school students to transform canned goods into sculptures to help feed the needy.

The second annual “Can Creations” contest sponsored by the school district’s largest charitable food pantry — Reach Out Lakota — will soon see its officials judging student-created sculptures made from their families’ donated canned goods at various schools.

The contest is being conducted now because winter is typically one of the slower months for food donations, said the leader of Reach Out Lakota.

“The timing is no accident,” said Brenda Yablonsky, executive director of West Chester Twp.-headquartered pantry.

Reach Out Lakota’s partnership food drives with the school system, which enrolls students from both West Chester and Liberty Twps., peaks each fall with their annual “Stuff The Bus” food campaign.

But the winter months following the fall show hunger knows no season.

“We need food donations all year long because of the growing needs we have,” said Yablonsky of her organization’s ties with low-income families in the school system.

Lakota officials welcome the contest as another opportunity for students to develop a “can do” attitude when it comes to helping others.

Lauren Boettcher, a spokeswoman for Lakota, said besides Lakota Ridge Junior School, six other schools are participating in the sculpture contest.

“This is essentially a food drive where competing teams build the donated items into a sculpture that they plan out and design on their own – or in a couple cases, in partnership with a local business,” said Boettcher.

Lakota Ridge students partnered with local construction company Sunesis in creating their sculpture of cans in the shape of the widely popular Stanley beverage tumbler with their school’s Firebird mascot logo on top.

Participating Ridge students this week assembled their creation overseen by art teacher Amy Panfalone, who joined Reach Out Lakota officials in praising the contest for its dual mission of instilling creativity and altruism in her students.

“We wanted to do something timely, and a large percentage of students here at Ridge have Stanley tumblers because they are all the rage,” said Panfalone.

Yablonsky said “our goal is to fill our (pantry) shelves but also to build the next generation of civic-minded citizens in our community.”

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