By Kyle Carney
Students from Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School came in with a "can do" attitude to participate in the We CAN Help program on May 28.
The program challenged students to use the STEM skills they have learned during the year to build structures with canned foods.
"This program is great for a few reasons," Denise Sellers of Haddonfield Child Care said. "The kids are able to use the STEM skills they have been learning in a fun way; we get the kids and their parents together to do something fun; and we get to help out the community by giving the canned food away."
The students collected the cans during the school year. Cans were also donated by Wegman's Supermarket and the two teams battled it out for those cans in a chess tournament.
The cans were put to good use on May 28, when the two teams squared off in a competition to design and build the best structure. The two teams, the Minions versus the Swagin Dawgs, were able to build anything they wanted, so long as they only used the cans they had collected. Parents were also invited to participate in the event and they pitched right in on their hands and knees stacking cans.
"The whole concept of this event came together after Torani Syrups began their 'Power Down, Connect Up' initiative," Sellers said. "We wanted to create something that would allow the kids to turn off their screens and be with their families."
The We CAN Help program is based on the CANstruction events that have become popular for architecture firms around Philadelphia and New York, in which architects and engineers compete is design competitions with only canned foods.
"We took that idea and made it a little more fun," Sellers said.
The collection of cans was extensive and after the half hour time limit, both teams had finished constructing their buildings. The Minions designed a castle with a moat surrounding it, while the Swagin Dawgs went in a different direction, building a police station and car.
It was then left to the judges, which included architect Jay Reinert, landscape architect Joseph Sikora, Elizabeth Haddon Principal Craig Ogelby and local sculptor John Giannotti. After some intense deliberation, Mayor Jeffrey Kasko announced the winner: the Swagin Dawgs. All was not lost for the Minions though, as they took home the award for most cans collected, brining in 297 cans.
"It's always a great thing when you can get kids and parents together having fun," Sellers said. "And it's always nice to be able to give back in the process too."
In total, the We CAN Help program collected over 500 canned goods, which were donated to the St. Paul's Church Food Pantry after the competition ended.
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