Students showed school spirit and supported the UNF community at the Homecoming Lend-A-Wing Can Castle Competition on Thursday. Clubs gathered to build elaborate displays out of cans and other goods to be donated to the Lend-A-Wing pantry. Students built the castles at the Student Union Plaza and were encouraged to base their designs on 2017’s Homecoming theme, “There’s no place like Homecoming.”
Castles were judged based on a point system and creativity. Items were worth one to three points, with higher values given to items the pantry is low on.
According to a post on the Osprey Productions Facebook page, the winner of the competition will be announced at halftime during tomorrow’s basketball game.
This year, three-point items included popular choices like cereal, peanut butter and snack foods, said Dawn Dragone, the assistant director of Lend-A-Wing. She said the Homecoming Can Castle Competition helps raise awareness about the pantry.
“I think it’s awesome because for the most part, students are really involved in Homecoming week, so they’re already paying attention to the events that are going on,” said Dragone. “This is just one more awesome opportunity for us to raise awareness about Lend-A-Wing.”
“To have an event solely based on providing a donation for their fellow students is really awesome,” she continued.
Lend-A-Wing provides foods and other goods to students in need. Dragone said any current UNF student can take five pounds of food from the pantry every day it is open and students are not required to show proof of financial need.
“That’s why events like this are really so awesome, because that will help feed many students for weeks at a time,” said Dragone.
Many clubs got creative with their designs.
The Kappa Sigma castle was modeled after the cut-out of Coach Driscoll in the Boathouse, according to Philip Colaizzo. Colaizzo, a junior biomedical major with a minor in Spanish, said they built the “Driscoll can castle-holder” Wednesday night.
Colaizzo said Kappa Sigma attends every year. This year, they planned their design in Walmart while buying supplies.
“It’s something to get more active in the community and just really help out,” said Colaizzo. “Me and one of my good friends got to build it and had a great time doing it. It brought us together, good times and it’s for a good cause.”
Alejandro Vallejo, the director of philanthropy for the Transportation and Logistics Society, said it was his club’s first time participating.
They spent about half an hour designing their castle, which was based on the yellow brick road.
“I think it’s a great event, especially when you are a student, because sometimes it’s tough to have the amount of money and resources to survive,” Vallejo said. “It’s pretty nice to see everyone come together for a nice event that actually benefits students.”
Once the event was over, the groups brought their donations to Lend-A-Wing, which hit the shelves for students as fast as possible.
“There’s a lot of students in need, but they don’t want to come forward and say they need help, or they don’t know how to ask for it,” Dragone said. “So that’s what we’re here for. Basically, we have an open door and we’re there for anybody that needs us.”
In addition to food items, Lend-A-Wing has business and professional clothing, toiletries, houseware and school supplies.
“Essentially, we are just like a mini one-stop shop to try to provide for the students that need it,” she said.
Dragone said Lend-A-Wing has 31 donation boxes placed around campus. Most donations come from faculty, staff, students and organizations, like the School of Nursing and the Nutrition Department.
“This is my first time, and I like it,” said Frank Molina, a freshman majoring in education, who participated with his fraternity.
“For one, it’s just like a bonding experience with my brothers and people from this school. And two, it’s helping out the community, donating. So why not?”
He said his organization, Theta Chi, did not plan their design.
“It was kind of like, let’s wing it, everyone try and show up, bring as much as you can, and then see what happens,” he said. “I thought it was just gonna be, drop some cans off, and that’s it, but everyone’s building these huge pyramids.”
Robert Ford, a junior transportation and logistics major, said this was his third time participating with the Catholic Ospreys. He said they have come in second both previous years.
“I really want to win this year,” said Ford. “I think we’ve got what it takes this year.”
Ford loves the competition but finds more joy in the idea that something like this can bring the community together and a make a real impact.
“I just like to see that we’re able to bring out this much food to help others. I respect the competition,” said Ford. “I know sometimes we can’t have the most, but I’m just happy all this food is going to a good cause.”
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