CAMPUS VIEW

CAMPUS VIEW

SUCCESS IN A CAN: ICONIC CSU FOOD DRIVE STARTED IN 1986

Thirty years ago, graduate student Victoria Keller came up with an idea to harness the enthusiasm of fellow Colorado State University students to help feed the hungry of Larimer County. Their combined efforts rounded up several thousand pounds of food in an event they called Cans Around the Oval.

Fast-forward three decades, and Cans Around the Oval has grown into an iconic event that truly defines CSU’s mission of serving the community. Last year, more than 17,000 people helped bring in food and cash to provide 345,514 pounds of food for the county’s hungry.

Affectionately known as “Cans,” the event has become the largest one-day food drive benefiting the Food Bank for Larimer County. Jenn Rieskamp, program coordinator for CSU’s Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office, remains in awe of the initiative four years after arriving from the University of Missouri.

“CSU has a really unique community that values supporting each other and being actively engaged,” she said. “I’ve never been on a campus like this, where people just do things. Last year we had 17,000 participants – that’s just amazing. It’s just a very special event.”

Last year, Cans set a record with $57,030 in donations. Although donated nonperishable food items are appreciated, cash is preferred as the Food Bank can turn every dollar into five pounds of food.

This year, the student-run event hopes to break last year’s record and have an even bigger impact.

SCHOOL IS COOL: 25 YEARS OF HELPING KIDS SUCCEED

Twenty-five years ago, a group of inspired volunteers gathered in a Fort Collins garage, united by a single purpose: Making sure 62 kids had the best possible chance to succeed in elementary school.

Today, many of those original volunteers are still associated with School is Cool, the groundbreaking program established at Colorado State University. School is Cool’s goal is to provide underprivileged kids in Poudre School District a backpack filled with high-quality supplies for the coming year.

School is Cool’s impact has been remarkable. From very humble beginnings, dedicated volunteers have transformed the program into a marvel of impactful efficiency.

In one three-day period in August, just prior to the first day of school, more than 200 volunteers gather on campus to stuff donated supplies into backpacks for each grade level, then deliver the finished product to PSD elementary, middle, and high schools for distribution.

Each year, School is Cool provides more than 2,500 backpacks, with nearly 40,000 donated since the program’s inception.

“School is Cool is the consummate CSU outreach program,” said Tom Milligan, vice president for external relations. “Not only do CSU employees do most of the work, they have provided the bulk of the funding for the program over the past 25 years. School is Cool is a true testament to our commitment to the community and education on all levels.”

All of the funding that first year was provided by CSU employees, and 25 years later they still provide the majority of the money needed to fill the ever-expanding needs of PSD schools. The CSU Bookstore, Bohemian Foundation, and Costco now partner with School is Cool to serve even more kids.

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