Students build structures out of canned goods for charity

Tyler Prochazka

WKU students constructed replicas of a tank, the Eiffel Tower and other structures — all out of cans.

As part of Volunteer Week, the WKU ALIVE Center hosted its third “CANstruct for a Cause” food drive. Participants were asked to collect as many canned goods as possible and then compete to make the best structures out of the cans.


This year, participants collected about 1,800 cans, all of which will be donated to food pantries, including the Red Cross, HOTEL INC and The Food Abides.

Aurelia Spaulding, the communications and marketing coordinator for the ALIVE Center, said she appreciates that so many students came to participate in the can drive at the Center for Research and Development on Tuesday.

“We wanted to not only create a fun way to get people in, donating to food pantries, as well as increase awareness around food access,” Spaulding said.

The can-building competition was judged on three categories. The most cans were collected by the American Institute of Architecture Students, which built the Eiffel Tower replica. The most creative was built by the Student Veterans Alliance, which built the tank.

The best overall structure was built by Omega Phi Alpha. They built a leaf with a lady bug on the top out of the cans. This is the second time Omega Phi Alpha has won best overall structure.

Bardstown sophomore Devin Sympson, Omega Phi Alpha’s head of community at large, which conducts community outreach, said she believes the can drive is important because it brings students together to help others.

“It is a great way to show WKU has a lot of organizations and people who care and want to help,” Sympson said.

Brittany Ryan, the ALIVE Center’s office associate, said one in five children across the United States are food-insecure and Kentucky likely mirrors these trends.

Ryan said the food drive this year had more organizations and students involved than the last time they held the event in 2011.

“I think it’s more successful than we’ve had in years past, which is encouraging,” Ryan said.

According to Ryan, the cans raised will provide several months’ worth of food to the pantries.

Bowling Green junior Kaitlyn Soler, the Student Veterans Alliance secretary, said the group’s goal was to raise 400 cans and she believes she reached that goal.

Soler said the event was brought to her attention and she thought it was a “great way to give back to our community,” so she decided to participate.

“There’s a real sense of pride in helping your community succeed,” she said.

Although Ryan said students may not see hunger in front of them, it occurs even in Bowling Green, which is why she said events like “CANstruct” are essential.

“Just because they don’t see kids that are hungry, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist,” Ryan said.

Like Ryan, Soler said she believes getting involved to alleviate food insecurity in one’s community is vitally important.

“Not only does that sustain life, it sustains hope,” she said.