The creativity and generosity of local residents are benefiting three Bartholomew County food pantries more than ever before.

United Way of Bartholomew County conducted its ninth annual CANstruction competition, in which teams create sculptures from canned food items. Cans collected by the teams or donated by the public are then given to Love Chapel, the Salvation Army or the Community Center of Hope, three food pantry operators in Bartholomew County.

The degree of creativity by participating teams was readily apparent this year. One team made the White House from beans, another the Statue of Liberty from tuna and a third used carrots to construct the Golden Gate Bridge.

The works were displayed publicly last month at FairOaks Mall, giving residents the opportunity to see them up close and then vote for their favorites. Columbus Signature Academy _ Fodrea campus won the People’s Choice Award with its entry, “UNITED we can!”

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Final tallies indicated this year was a record-breaking effort, as 38,042 cans were collected, topping last year’s record of 36,000. That’s a substantial amount of help for local food pantries that need ongoing support to accomplish their missions of helping people in need. Also, $625 was raised from online voting.

The creativity of CANstruction design makers was inspiring, and provided unique works of art for the public to enjoy. But most importantly, the end result of helping food pantries feed the hungry had to be satisfying for volunteers and recipients.