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Squeezing out hunger

United Way of Kitsap County and Rice Fergus Miller Architecture & Planning of Bremerton recently joined forces to create the BoaCANstrictor at Kitsap Mall. - Paul Balcerak/staff photo
United Way of Kitsap County and Rice Fergus Miller Architecture & Planning of Bremerton recently joined forces to create the BoaCANstrictor at Kitsap Mall.
— image credit: Paul Balcerak/staff photo

A snake slithered into Kitsap Mall this week.

United Way of Kitsap County and Rice Fergus Miller Architecture & Planning of Bremerton recently teamed up to create this serpent of a different kind.

For the second consecutive year, United Way participated in the national event known as CanStruction. More than 200 cities across the United States participate in the competition and create eye-pleasing structures out of one material and one material only: cans.

“CanStruction is actually a national competition,” said Patricia Hennessy, director of resource development for United Way of Kitsap County. “We’re trying again to really bring the competition to Kitsap County.”

Rice Fergus Miller decided to join United Way and tackle this unique project this year. Rice Fergus Miller began planning for CanStruction a while ago and decided a BoaCANstrictor would be an eye-catching display.

“We were sitting down last year, brainstormed a bunch of different ideas and we thought a boa constrictor wrapped around a can of food was kind of cute,” said Monica Blackwood, Rice Fergus Miller’s director of business operations and a CanStruction committee member.

To create the 5-foot tall and 10-foot long structure, Rice Fergus Miller and United Way collected more than 1,500 cans of non-perishable food items. The CanStruction team began creating the BoaCANstrictor at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 3, in Kitsap Mall’s Center Court.

“It is not only a visual feast for your eyes, it’s an amazing feat of engineering,” Hennessy said. “You’re like, ‘they did that out of cans?!’”

The BoaCANstrictor is not only an engineering marvel, it is a way to give back to the community. All of the cans used to create the structure will be donated to area food banks May 11 to aid in the shortage they are currently facing.

“It’s a really exciting way to collect cans for area food banks,” Hennessy said.

Both Hennessy and Blackwood said the BoaCANstrictor display calls attention to hunger in Kitsap County and hope the structure gets more people to donate to area food banks.

“It really allows us (Rice Fergus Miller) to use our design talents to put together a message in a fun way that’s a little more interactive,” Blackwood said.

Hennessy said local food banks gave out more than four million pounds of food last year and the demand for food assistance continues to grow.

“We have seen a huge increase for the demand of food in our community,” Hennessy said.

Hennessy added that as the summer months approach, children who receive free or reduced-cost lunches at school will suffer when school is not in session.

“There are kids going without meals,” she said.

CanStruction displays are created across the country throughout the year and critiqued by judges. Winning structures are sent to a national competition. Because Kitsap County only has one CanStruction design, it will not be judged, but Hennessy said she hopes to change that and get other architecture and design businesses to participate next year.

The BoaCANstrictor will be on display in the Center Court at Kitsap Mall through Saturday, May 10.

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