Oct 142009

Using only a few scales of varying size and type, dozens of volunteers hand-weighed 84,000 pounds of food on the Oval Wednesday.

They did this, not to build their upper body strength or to break a world record, but to calculate the total pounds of food dropped off at the Oval Wednesday evening for CSU’s 22nd annual Cans Around the Oval Distribution Day.

Totals to-date, however, “are not complete by any means,” Keith Colton, the program coordinator for Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement, the organization that sponsored the drive, said, adding that a total would not be known until the end of the month.

Though volunteers for Larimer County’s largest food drive collected 84,000 pounds of food and $27,000 in monetary donations/$2,000 more than last year for the Food Bank of Larimer County, more food and money is expected to come in from 42 groups still needing to turn in collections.

Following an equation used by the food bank, each dollar in monetary donations equals about eight pounds of food. However, the food bank takes into consideration particular factors to figure totals that differ from those calculated by people outside the organization.

“Including the cash with the pounds of food that we have, the equation results to 150,000 pounds,” Colton said, commending the groups that delivered donations.

This year 13,000 volunteers canvassed neighborhoods and collected food, up from 9,000 volunteers last year.

Colton said that although much of the excitement of Cans Around the Oval is the number of pounds collected, a main importance of the event is to bring the community together for a common cause — educating the community on the increasing issue of hunger.

“It’s not about reaching our goal. It’s more

important that we had so many people involved this year, and it’s way more important that we raised more money than last year,” Colton said. “It’s awesome, and we’re really excited.”

Cassidy Black, a junior human development and family studies major and SLiCE member, agreed with Colton.

“We’ve reached a larger base of people this year, which is a huge success. It’s really about the process of spreading awareness as we go,” Black said. “Even if we don’t meet our goal, it’s great to see that people see (hunger) as a problem in our community and are acting to fix it.”

This year, 27 local K-12 schools also participated in the food drive, collecting thousands of pounds of food. Last year, only 15 schools participated.

With the increased need of food in the community, CSU’s Alumni Association expanded Cans Around the Oval to Denver, Castle Rock and Steamboat. Residents from the three cities will now partner with CSU to help their individual communities by collecting canned food for their local food banks.

Colton said that it is great to see Cans Around the Oval expanding and helping more people, adding that he would one day hope to see Cans Around Colorado.

“(Cans Around Colorado) would show what CSU alumni could accomplish together,” Colton said. “It’s a great idea.”

In the mix of volunteers, Katie Abeyta, a sophomore English major and member of the coed community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, helped by volunteering for the drive.

“(Cans Around the Oval) is a really good service project, and it does a lot of good for the county,” Abeyta said. “It shows the community that we’re coming together and supporting people who need help. We’re making a difference.”

Staff writer Justyna Tomtas can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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