About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view madmurph's profile
    Posted December 16, 2010 by
    Aliso Viejo, California

    More from madmurph

    Can-struction Can-nection: A Holiday Student Project


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     madmurph told me, 'The pride and enthusiasm of the students was refreshing, given what we hear more often about our youth these days.'
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    A classroom full of service-minded middle school students are showing that not only is the holiday spirit alive and well on our school campuses, but there are still many of our youth in the community that are setting high standards as model citizens, also. As their Teacher/Advisor Mandy Berndt so aptly puts it, “this is a total student created project, this is middle schoolers at their best, I couldn’t be more proud of them!”

    Drawing on the inspiration from an earlier iReport photo story (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-493996) about an architecturally-themed food drive featuring canned food construction at a local mall, and the infectious spirit of Ms. Berndt, students at Don Juan Avila Middle School, in Aliso Viejo, CA, set out to create their own can-themed constructions, but with a Holiday twist. As members of a special school service class called Peer Assistance Leadership (PAL), these students formed three teams with each picking a different cultural celebration occurring during this holiday season. Like their adult counterparts, they worked in cooperative teams to plan, collect materials, and construct their own structural displays in the library at the school. They coordinated this construction effort in conjunction with the school’s annual canned food and toy drive to create an extra incentive, and in so doing collected over 3,000 cans of food for the South County Outreach* (http://sco-oc.org/).

    The library turned collection central and exhibit hall is full of bins overflowing with donated toys for “Toys for Tots” and an assortment of other canned food “assemblages” topping the bookshelves, along with the three large holiday-themed displays. To show their cultural awareness and sensitivity each team picked a different holiday celebration, so the three displays reflect this awareness. In one corner, there is a Hanukkah assemblage, in a hallway, Kwanza, and near the checkout desk, a tree with ornaments and The Grinch. There are no Grinches at this school, however, that much is obvious by the display of generosity in this library.

    The dedication to this project tapped these students’s creativity, philanthropy, and also required some extra sacrifice, as many gave up free time after school and on weekends to ensure its completion. Their pride in the finished product and the worthiness of their cause is evidenced in the beaming smiles, enthusiasm, acute awareness about the thousands of cans of food they collected and where it all goes, and their refusal to face comparison to their adult counterparts. “We’re just kids”, “we’ll do it bigger and better next year!” they shot back. The finished pieces display care, thought, and the unique creativity with which each were put together by the teams, preserved here in photo and video, as by the time this story reaches post, they will have been disassembled and will be serving their intended purpose – feeding the needy families and seniors of Orange County, CA.

    *South County Outreach is a non-profit, non-sectarian organization, providing aid to families and seniors in Orange County. They provide homeless prevention services to over 650 families per month and food services to over 1,200 families per month.

    see the video here:


    all photos and videos by Tom Murphine

    Add your Story Add your Story