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Local students use 'CANstruction' to help Michiana community

“This one you look at it and you think, ‘boy I hope that doesn’t fall over’ but it’s been here all week,” said Steve Matteson, Dir. of Ministry Partnerships, Hope Ministries.

Thousands of Michiana’s shoppers can’t help but notice something different sitting in the middle of the hallways at University Park Mall this week.

“This one behind us has almost 25 hundred cans in it,” said Matteson.

Well it’s all here for good reason. Seven different structures were built by local high school students out of thousands and thousands of canned goods for the public to view and vote on.

“The objective is to help organizations creatively express their talents, high schools in the area of STEM, and businesses in the area of architecture and so forth,” said Matteson.

It’s all part of an international event called CANstruction Jr.  and it’s meant for something bigger. After the competition, those cans are headed straight to the stocking shelves of local shelters and food banks.

“We’re going to receive about 14,000 cans. Half of them will go to the food bank then Hope [Ministries] will use the other half,” said Matteson.

Organizer Steve Matteson says it’s something that helps on both ends of the spectrum.

“It’s a nice way to put into practice some of the things they’ve been working on in their engineering class, so not only do they get the experience of actually doing the build, but then there’s also the satisfaction of knowing that when they’re done, all the cans go to feed the needy in our community,” said Matteson.

But all must come to an end. Sunday is the conclusion of the competition which means every last can will be take down and donated to those who need is in our communities to hope ministries in South Bend and other area food banks.

“In a given year, we’re going to serve 120,000 meals out of our building, both to the residents that live there and those in the community who need a meal, so these cans get put to good use,” said Matteson.

UPDATE: All cans were taken down to the Hope Ministries building in South Bend. Organizers say the last three years have been such a success, they are working to try and include an adult competition next year as a step up from the CANstruction Jr. competition to help raise more canned goods for the less fortunate in Michiana.

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