Canned goods shape food drive

By Sam Rinderman

UNC Co-Editor

the Durham VOICE

Before you donate canned food items to a charity, you usually bundle them up in a plastic bag, and drop off all your leftover creamed corn in an old recycling bin in the foyer of your church.

Tim Smirl and his associates at Alfred Williams and Company built an office workstation out of their canned food donations. (Staff photo by Sam Rinderman)

At the Creative Food Drive, held October 15 at the Farmers’ Market Pavilion on Fosters Street, your old pantry items become part of something much bigger.

Hosted by MHAworks Architects, the Creative Food Drive consisted of 15 teams designing and constructing their non-perishable food donations into large art displays, and all proceeds go to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina at Durham, the Creative Food Drive website said.

George Hining, director of business development at MHAworks, said this year’s event was the first Creative Food Drive.

“A couple months ago these teams signed up and each collected at least 500 food items that they’ve either internally raised or purchased, and they’re given two hours to take that food, unload it and build a sculpture,” Hining said.

Participants are encouraged to build anything from a sculpture of a dolphin jumping out of water, or something that symbolizes a participating company’s area of work, Hining said.

“The idea is that they’re going to come out and build something, and it is going to be judged by four different judges, and we’re going to have five different winners,” Hining said.

The five different winners are each awarded homemade trophies, Hining added.

Tim Smirl, an account manager at Alfred Williams and Company, built a workstation with his teammates out of their collection of canned goods.

“We sell office furniture and commercial office furniture, so we wanted to mimic what we sell,” Smirl said.  “This event is very well put together with a lot of great people.”

Smirl said the Creative Food Drive would rate as a nine or a 10 in comparison to other charity events he had participated in.

Mike Kriston, vice president of business development at McDonald York, said his team collected 1,122 cans.

“We are going old school and building a Rubik’s cube,” Kriston said.

“We got corn, black beans, green beans, tomatoes and jalapeno refried beans, which I have not had personally, but I saw those cans and I’ve got to go back to the store now and get some for my house because I am really curious to try them,” Kriston said.

Kriston said the grocery retailers Trader Joes and Kroger were surprisingly easy for his company to work with in gathering over one thousand cans.

“We had gone to some of our select sub-contractors, Tech Electric was one of our supporters, but we basically contacted several sub-contractors, raised donations and went from there,” Kriston said.

The biggest challenge, besides acquiring cans, was determining what to design, Kriston said.

“Our initial thought was to build the Lucky Strike water tower, and we figured we could make it work” he said. “We figured out ways to do it, but we just couldn’t make it work.”

“We look forward to coming out again next year using what we’ve learned this year,” Kriston said.