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Celebrating 25 years of making a difference 'one can at a time'

October 10, 2011

Cans Around the Oval will kick off their 25th year at 10 a.m. Oct. 12 on the CSU Oval. Cans Around the Oval holds the title as Larimer County's largest one-day food drive.

Thousands of pounds of foodchildren line the Oval with donated canned goods

All collected food and monetary donations benefit The Food Bank for Larimer County. Last year alone, Cans Around the Oval was able to donate over 66,000 pounds of food and $39,000.

Make a difference

Cans Around the Oval is hosted by the Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement office at CSU. The SLiCE office’s mission is to maximize student potential through high quality, innovative programs and services. Cans Around the Oval is not just meant for CSU students to come out and make a difference, but also calls for members of Fort Collins and Larimer County to participate. SLiCE urges all levels of the community to take part and create relationships between students, business members and residents while at the same time helping the community.

Students line the Oval with donated canned goodsHunger is a problem right here in Colorado

Hunger is often viewed as an issue plaguing third world countries, however, it is also a very real problem right here in Colorado. One in five children in Larimer County, do not have enough food to meet their nutritional needs, according to The Food Bank for Larimer County. With over 30,000 clients served by the Food Bank in 2010, Cans Around the Oval plays an important role in feeding the community throughout the year.

Please register

Cans Around the Oval encourages businesses, community groups, organizations, and residents to register online at Registered groups host their own food drives until collection day, Oct. 12 where donations are received and counted on The Oval at CSU and recognition is given to top donors and collectors.

Denver Alumni Effort

With the demand at food banks rising this year, Colorado State University's Cans Around Denver, in conjunction with Cans Around the Oval, is a community service project in support of Food Bank of the Rockies.

Hundreds of cans collected during Cans Around the OvalAlumni show support for those in need

CSU is encouraging alumni in Denver to show their support for those in need. During the month of October, companies can host a Cans Around Denver food drive at their business. Property managers can supply their own bins or can request CSU Cans Around Denver boxes to have in their lobbies.

CSU is accepting food or non-perishable donations during the month of October at the CSU Denver Center, 475 17th Street (corner or 17th and Glenarm), Suite 100, Denver.

The event will wrap up with a final collection during a CSU Hometown Huddle Football Watch Party on October 29 at 4 p.m. The Huddles and food collection will be located at CB Potts, 6575 S. Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Greenwood Village and Whiskey Bar, 2203 Larimer St., Denver.

Food Bank of the Rockies

Food Bank of the Rockies (FBR) was founded in 1978 and extends its reach across Northern Colorado and Wyoming, providing food supplies to more than 1,100 hunger-relief programs. In its first 30 years, FBR has provided nearly 392 million pounds of food to our member agencies, which translates to more than 306 million meals for people in need. In 2010, FBR distributed 35.7 million pounds of food, enough to provide 76,000 meals each day to children, seniors and families in need.

For more information about Cans Around Denver, contact Tiana Nelson at (303) 376-2613 or

Students help with Cans Around the OvalHistory of Cans Around the Oval

Cans Around the Oval is an example of how one person can truly make a difference. It started with one person thinking of an idea, one person putting it into motion, and a community coming together to turn it into a tradition. In 1986 the Office of Community Services (OCS), which has now grow into the office of Student Leadership, Involvement & Community Engagement (SLiCE), consisted one of graduate student and three work-study undergraduate students.

It was during this time that a graduate student, Victoria Keller, was hired to oversee the efforts of OSC. One afternoon, a journalism student asked Keller to read over a 2-page assignment she had written proposing a canned food drive, which sparked the fire for Cans Around the Oval. Keller, wanting to pursue the proposal, contacted the Food Bank’s then Director, Sandy Bowden who coined the name Cans Around the Oval. Keller and two other students decided to take on the efforts of orchestrating the first Cans Around the Oval.

The first Collection Day made a huge impact on the individuals organizing the event; each individual canned food item signified a step in the right direction. Their excitement spilled over into physically placing  cans around  CSU’s Oval. Although the cans could only line a quarter of the Oval that first year, the enthusiasm surrounding the accomplishment was strong and would become a legacy for the next 25 years.

Students help with Cans Around the OvalKeller ran CANS as a student for 2 years, and then submitted a proposal to grow OCS into a fully funded and staffed office. Keller and other students organized a student fee referendum and became a student fee funded office. She was hired after graduation and led CANS as well as the office until 2004. Along the way, OCS became The Office of Service-Learning and Volunteer Programs, what is now SLiCE.

Victoria Keller, one of the co-founders of this 25 year CSU tradition, is amazed by the campus and community support Cans Around the Oval receives. She explains, “I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to know these programs are thriving and growing.It’s a program near and dear my heart.

It started with one student wanting to make a difference; 25 years later over 16,000 people from the Colorado State University campus and local community are continuing the tradition and making it even more impactful every single year.

Children line the Oval with donated canned goodsLast year the Food Bank for Larimer County served over 30,000 individuals, almost doubling the amount from 2006. Despite such encouraging gains, hunger frequently strikes the most vulnerable people in our communities, especially children. 1 in 5 kids in our community are not receiving enough food to meet their daily nutritional needs. These numbers serve to highlight how much this program is still needed today.

Cans Around the Oval’s growth is truly inspiring. An idea that was sparked from a class assignment has now become part of Colorado State University’s history. One person can change people’s lives and every year thousands of people come to the Oval to do just that.