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Annual food drive surpasses goal for total donations

Published: Friday, October 9, 2009

Updated: Friday, October 9, 2009 05:10

Darci Ham

James Adams, a senior journalism major, sorts cans donated by the Society for Professional Journalists. The event continued through the cold weather, raising more than 40,000 pounds of canned food.

Despite the cold weather, participants of this year's Cans to Candelaria food drive gathered Thursday underneath a tent set up in the parking lot behind Candelaria Hall. The event attracted 55 different organizations and departments of UNC and members of the community who were interested in helping families in need alleviate the burden of hunger.

Participants streamed in during the five-hour collection period to collect, weigh and calculate how much cash and how many cans each organization and department managed to collect. At the end of the drop, the total amount of food collected was more than the set goal of 40,000 pounds.

"We have been working on it in our PR class, which is the capstone class for journalism majors," said Tyler Smeeton, a senior journalism and sociology major. "We had fun trying to set everything up."

Smeeton said this was his first time participating in Cans to Candelaria and that it was a beneficial learning experience for him. He also said even though the work was hard, it made him feel good all around.

"Today was ultimately the best day, I think, because it definitely showed community support," Smeeton said.

Mary Alice Nava, an employee with the promotions department at KKPL 99.9 FM The Point, was also present at the collection tent.

"It was really good turnout despite the weather," Nava said. "We have been promoting the event a couple of weeks in advance, and DJ Kane from our station was also broadcasting from 10 a.m. to noon today, trying to bring in more donations."

The awards ceremony in the evening in Candelaria Hall Room 1045 included some representatives from the different University of Northern Colorado organizations and departments. The winners of this year's Cans to Candelaria challenge was announced as well as the new mascot, "Can-Dee the Coin."

"One dollar equals six pounds of food," said Rick Cramer, a local food solicitor for the Weld  Food Bank. "Cash is more versatile; that is why UNC has been trying to raise more cash than cans this year."

This year's third place winner was Housing and Residence Life, second place was Student Dietetic Association and the grand prize went to the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, with a total of 12,327.46 pounds.

After the winners were announced, Bob O'Connor, a representative from Weld Food Bank, gave a short speech. O'Connor said this year's request for food was far above average.

"These donations couldn't come at a better time," O'Connor said. "They will be sorted out and distributed by tomorrow."

O'Connor also gave some statistics during  his speech. He said one out of every five people in Greeley live below the poverty line and about 4,500 new families are seeking food assistance this year.

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