Cans for a Cause: Youths Combat Hunger

Each year, the Youth Volunteer Corp (YVC) of Reading hosts a “Canstructure Contest.” The contest – aimed to combat hunger in Berks County – is a friendly competition where students across the county create unique structures entirely from cans of food collected through food drives held by each team. After the competition, all the collected food cans are donated to the local food bank, Helping Harvest, to combat local food insecurity.

As a proud member of the Berks County Community, EnerSys has supported the Youth Volunteer Corp (YVC) of Reading Canstructure Contest since 2020 and has contributed $10,000 to date in support of this important community event, fostering creativity, teamwork, and community service.

This year, for the 7th Annual Canstructure Contest, held on March 15, 2024, more than 170 students came together to participate in the structure-building competition. Students donated a remarkable 15,300 pounds of nonperishable food items to the local food bank -- providing enough food to feed ~130 community members for a month1. Not only did the teams come together to create impressive structures, as pictured below, but they also made a tangible difference in their community.

Northwest Middle School’s award-winning structure of the Roman Colosseum

Wilson West Middle School’s award-winning structure of wonders from around the world including: the Sydney Opera House, Russian nesting dolls, the Liberty Bell, and Easter Island statue

Melissa Shoumlisky, Strategic Quality Planning Manager at EnerSys, has served as a judge for the Canstructure competition for the past three years and is continually impressed by the students’ ingenuity and dedication to the cause. “Each year, I’m in awe of what they are able to come up with,” says Melissa. “Once again, the teams have knocked it out of the park, raising several tons of food for the local food bank!"

Beyond gaining life skills and engaging in meaningful community service, students are encouraged to learn about food insecurity while participating in the event. Equipped with this newfound understanding and empathy, students can carry the skills and knowledge gained from this event with them long past the competition.

Christi Terefenko from VOiCEup Berks, an affiliate of YVC, summarized the event as, “…more than just a contest, it’s a testament to the power of education, teamwork, and compassion.”

As a proud sponsor, EnerSys looks forward to the positive impact this event will continue to have on the local food bank, community members in need, and participants involved. Together, we are committed to building a brighter future for our community and are incredibly proud of our local students and their “can-do” attitude!

1 Assuming the average person eats about 116 pounds of food per month (Average total for the year minus beverage consumption divided by 12 months) ve-american-average-food-consumption1.jpg (950×1742) (