By KENDALL KING on March 24, 2023.
Teams from four local organizations are promoting creativity, community and charity during the Root Cellar’s Canstruction event, taking place until Saturday.
Started in 1992, Canstruction is an annual global initiative in which volunteer teams raise money to purchase canned and boxed food items for their local food bank.
But gathering items to donate is only half the work.
Prior to handing the canned and boxed items over to their food bank, teams must first use them to design and build a themed artistic sculpture; competing against other local teams to see who can create the best piece.
This year’s event marks the third time Medicine Hat’s Root Cellar has taken part in the event and official return of Canstruction locally since pre-pandemic.
“The importance of this is community exposure to what we do,” Root Cellar executive director Melissa Mullis told the News. “But also, it’s a really unique way to bring food through the door (which) really just highlights the need that we’re dealing with right now.”
Over the past year, the Root Cellar has seen a 35 per cent increase in demand for services, with approximately 150-200 new clients accessing the Root Cellar each month.
“We always need donations, we always need support,” said Mullis. “So with all of these companies coming together (for Canstruction) we’re just really grateful.”
The four teams participating in this year’s event are newcomers to the competition BILD Medicine Hat, CF Industries and Crescent Heights High School, as well as veteran competitor Methanex.
“(The Root Cellar) is a very important charity to Methanex,” said Ian McLean, assistant supervisor in Methanex’ operations department. “It’s such a good cause … and through the pandemic, especially, there’s been such an increase in demand for the food bank.”
With this year’s theme ‘games,’ McLean and his team chose to design and build a sculpture commemorating some classic game characters, Mario and Donkey Kong; while BILD Medicine Hat dedicated their sculpture to Nintendo’s iconic Game Boy; CF Industries brought to life the popular game FarmVille; and CHHS embraced the spirit of in-game building with a Minecraft sculpture.
Teams had a time limit of only eight hours to construct their sculptures, several of which involved upwards of 7,000 cans.
Nevertheless, Craig Vik, an instrument and electrical MOC planner with CF Industries, expressed confidence in each team’s ability to complete their sculpture as the sculptures required extensive pre-event planning.
“We decided over a couple of meetings what we were going to do,” said Vik. “Then, (we) drafted it all up on the computer and made models and mock-ups.”
Vik and McLean say the largest challenge was ensuring the sculpture’s structural integrity, but both were excited to take on the task.
A panel of judges, including Medicine Hat mayor Linnsie Clark, will assess the sculptures this morning and award trophies to the winners of various categories.
Members of the public are also invited to join in the fun by attending a public viewing which runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Root Cellar.
Admission is free, though cash and/or food donations are welcomed.