‘Can’-structions for hunger-relief

Marriott Business Services kicks-off United Way ‘Can-paign’

Winner of the Marriott Business Services “Can-struction,” which also benefits the United Way of Blount County’s “Can-paign” drive was this wishing well, done in honor of the Make A Wish Foundation.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Winner of the Marriott Business Services “Can-struction,” which also benefits the United Way of Blount County’s “Can-paign” drive was this wishing well, done in honor of the Make A Wish Foundation.

Marriott Business Services put conventional grocery store pyramids to shame with their elaborate sculptures of “can-struction.” Friday’s event was part of the company’s Rewards and Recognition Day, which honors their employees and the nonprofits that Marriott supports.

“Marriott has a ‘spirit to serve’ philosophy,” communications manager Lia Ballentine said. “We also stress fun in the workplace.”

Because of its fun nature and hunger-relief cause, United Way of Blount County’s annual “Can-paign before the Campaign” competitive food drive was an ideal match for Marriott.

From Aug. 9 through 23, area businesses are encouraged to outdo one another in raising the most pounds of donated food per employee. While competition is encouraged, the entire community benefits from the common goal of service. The collected “Can-paign” food will be evenly distributed among eight local, participating pantries.

Chilhowee Baptist Center will be one of the agencies receiving the food. Rick and Sue Myers, co-directors of the center, said the United Way’s “Can-paign” is a way to ease some stress off those who frequently give. “Agencies like United Way help us to maintain food through their food drives,” Rick said. The couple’s jobs revolve around serving locals, as they coordinate the donations and volunteers from 82 of Blount County’s Baptist churches.

Rick and Sue help feed approximately 170 families per week. “That’s roughly 425 people per week,” said Rick. “We help between 1,500 to 1,600 people in Blount County per month.” To the Myers, and many other struggling nonprofits, the “Can-paign” will assist them in continuing their missions.

As one of the 24 participants recruited for the “Can-paign,” Marriott is looking to assist United Way, Chilhowee Baptist Center and other nonprofits like them. Held internally among their employees, Marriott used the “Can-paign” as a way to combine fun and service through their Creative Food Structure Competition.

Four structures decorated Marriott’s twin buildings, one on each floor. This year’s “can-struction” theme was “Organizations that Lend a Helping Hand.”

Departments collaborated and formed four teams, all of whom had plenty of room to flap their artistic wings. They had free range over the organization they wanted to honor and the structure’s design. “Considering they’re accountants, it’s interesting to see how creative they are,” said Christy Best, senior accountant in general accounting, with a laugh.

Build time was 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was a requirement that 90 percent of the construction materials had to be made of food. “It was definitely challenging,” said Carrie Ridenour, a property tax specialist. “We had to tear our structure down three or four times before it was stable.” Not only did the event raise awareness and a needed donation of canned goods, it also served as a team-building exercise.

The architectural feats honored Habitat for Humanity, Make a Wish Foundation, Relay for Life and the Imagination Library. Canned, diced tomatoes formed a Habitat hardhat, bags of brown rice represented the Relay walking route and various-sized cans formed the Imagination train with Dolly Parton cutouts.

The Marriott executive team named the Make a Wish Foundation wishing well, with its jalapeño and green bean columns and decorative ivy, the winner. The General Accounting floor won bragging rights and re-usable grocery bags.

The “Can-paign” begins in earnest Monday, Aug. 9, and continues through Aug. 23.

To join in on the “Can-paign” fun, visit liveunitedblount.org/food or call 865-982-2251.

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