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April 2, 2020

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Members of First United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship build a Wisconsin license plate as their 2020 CANtastic structure Feb. 22, 2020 in Rhinelander.
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Members of First United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship build a Wisconsin license plate as their 2020 CANtastic structure Feb. 22, 2020 in Rhinelander.
2/25/2020 7:30:00 AM
Rouman Cinema hosts 10th annual CANtastic build day to benefit RAFP
Vote for your favorite CANstruction via food donation
Stephanie Kuski
River News Features Reporter

Teams representing various businesses and community organizations gathered at Rouman Cinema in Rhinelander Saturday for the annual CANtastic build day, an opportunity to turn collected food cans into unique structures and help the Rhinelander Area Food Pantry (RAFP) along the way.

Structures were created entirely out of food cans and followed the theme "On the Road to Ending Hunger," or what you might see on a road trip. Now that those structures are finished, they are also on display and open to the public for viewing at Rouman Cinema. There will be three winners awarded for the most cans used, judge's choice and people's choice.

The people's choice vote is open to the public, and those interested in voting can bring food donations in order to vote for their favorite structures.

For voting purposes, one food item equals one vote, and spectators can vote with more than one can for the same structure. Cans must be full, unopened and with labels intact. Cash will not be accepted as a vote in lieu of actual food cans.

Those interested in voting for the structures are encouraged to stop by the Rouman Cinema until March 6. The public can vote any time between 4-9 p.m. on weekdays and 1-9 p.m. on weekends.

All of the food cans used to build the structures will be donated to the RAFP after the voting is complete.

This is the 10th year the food pantry has held this fundraiser and Guy Hansen, executive director of the RAFP, said Rouman Cinema provides an advantageous location for both the build day and display.

"We owe a real debt of gratitude to George Rouman for letting us use this facility," Hansen said. "They're very accommodating. It's nice that they have the room and they let us use it."

Hansen said the event typically falls around the same time as the Academy Awards, so hopefully there will be more foot traffic, from those looking to see the award-worthy films, to vote on the structures and provide even more donations to the RAFP.

In this way, the fundraiser is able to extend beyond Saturday morning and continue collecting food items.

Various groups from the community came prepared to Build Day with tools, ideas and lots of cans.

As she has for the last seven years, CANtastic builder Amy Rogers brought along a group from her second grade class at Pelican Elementary School to work on the build.

She said it's a great opportunity for a team-building activity that gives back to the community.

"It's very important and we're benefiting the community by meeting the food pantry's needs," Rogers said. "The kids are excited and having fun, and they know it's for a good cause."

Students from Team PeliCAN decided to bridge the hunger gap by creating the Mackinac Bridge for their 2020 CANtastic structure. They used approximately 350 cans which were donated by families at Pelican Elementary School and collected at a food drive hosted by the Rhinelander High School Student Council.

Khaila August, team member with Park City Credit Union, said her organization also gets together annually to build for CANtastic. They received their food donations from credit union members, local businesses and other local Park City branches, including those in Merrill, Minocqua and Tomahawk.

The group used their 750 cans to create a pickup truck hauling food donations.

"The road to hunger starts with a small truck of donations," August explained. "If we all get together, we can hopefully end the road to hunger."

Other structures also stayed in theme with "On the Road to Ending Hunger."

Together with his team, Pastor Rod Ankrom of Calvary Baptist Church said they used their congregation's donation of over 2,000 food cans to create a structure which provided a "Salute to Wisconsin Farmers." Their structure was complete with a barn, cornfield and a scarecrow.

Ankrom said supporting the food pantry as well as the needs of the community is an important part of his church's mission.

"I think supporting the food pantry is something our church has always done, along with most churches in our community," Ankrom said. "We have great community support for the food pantry and so many people need it."

Danielle Stachewicz, team captain for Associated Bank, said their 432 cans were donated by their members, Walmart and individual donations, including a donation from fellow bank teller Michelle Black.

"For our structure we have a Kwik Trip sign because when you're driving through Wisconsin, what do you see everywhere besides Kwik Trip signs?" Stachewicz explained.

Team member Tina Willcome said this is an event Associated Bank has done in years past.

"It's exciting to do this, I like that they have different themes every year," Willcome said. "I love CANtastic, and just the fact that all the cans here will be donated is wonderful."

Bart Kotarba, a representative from the Rhinelander First United Methodist Church Youth Fellowship, said this was the church's sixth year participating. In keeping with the theme, they decided to create a license plate which reads "'ND HUNGER."

Kotarba said every year is fun and inspiring to see what other groups create.

"We're here to support the food pantry in collecting food for them," Kotarba explained. "But it's an event that our church has gotten behind us too, since the money to buy the cans came from our congregation."

He said each Sunday for some weeks prior to the build, he would share his CANtastic plans and ask church members for donations. Now those members are also able to come see the structures themselves at the Rouman Cinema and vote for their favorite.

Janet Jamison was new to CANtastic this year, representing the newly-founded Positively Rhinelander in creating a lighthouse structure complete with all the bells and whistles.

"Positively Rhinelander is a Facebook page that highlights all of the positive people, events and beautiful scenery that Rhinelander has to offer," Jamison explained. "So we thought this would be a great way both to spread the word about Positively Rhinelander and also to help the food pantry with some canned food donations."

While this is the group's first build at CANtastic, they went all out in creating a lighthouse built from just shy of 2,000 food cans that features a rotating light on top with shutters made from tea bags.

Jamison said her group consists of friends in support of Positively Rhinelander, including local businesses owners like Tom Barnett of Tom's Drawing Board.

In order to fundraise for the cans, Jamison said Barnett had a food box at his business and the group also solicited donations from various organizations in town.

"We very much support our area food pantry," Jamison said. "We're hopeful that by doing this, we can focus on more positive energy around Rhinelander, and certainly if people aren't hungry, that is a positive thing."

After voting is complete, there will also be an awards ceremony for the CANtastic structures at 9 a.m. on March 7 which the public is welcome to join.

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