Canstruction: A House of Cans to Replenish Shelves of Montgomery County Food Bank
The John Cooper School community has constructed a Habitat home through Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity for 21 consecutive years. Due to COVID-19, the project is postponed until it is safe to do so again.
However, thanks to creative thinking, much planning and dedication, a house has been built this school year in service to others.
Student leaders from the JCS Interact Club and the Habitat Project Steering Committee, with the leadership of the Upper School Student Government Association collected donations of canned goods to build a house out of cans, affectionately called “Habitat House 21.5.” People could purchase and donate the canned goods themselves or had the ability to purchase a “brick” online, with everything ultimately donated to Montgomery County Food Bank.
Cans of specific brands and sizes were collected over several weeks that were used to build the house – red cans for the bricks, blue around the doors and windows, and green for the grass – plus other packaged dry goods of oatmeal, spaghetti and cereal for the roof.
Students from all Upper School grade levels joined teams to spearhead publicity, construction, and donations. Ultimately, over 3,000 cans and packages were collected to build the house.
Technical theatre management students and faculty built a structure and designed the specifications for how to actually construct the house. After school on February 23, students, faculty and administrators completed the build in less than two hours.
The next afternoon, a dedication ceremony was held for “Habitat House 21.5”, in similar fashion to those held when a Habitat home is completed. Student leaders each shared what went into completing the project and the importance of the outreach. The festive atmosphere included a performance by the Cooper drumline, an appearance by the school’s mascot, Draco the Dragon, and the planting of a “flower” in the garden by Sophie Brown `24 and Andie Popp `31. Dignitaries from the Montgomery County Food Bank shared their thanks to conclude the ceremony and the house was broken down afterward and moved onto pallets for delivery to the food bank the next day.
Although this project was in the works for many weeks and had to be re-scheduled, the coordinators had no idea how much the cans would be needed due to the recent winter storm.
“The timeline of this project and donation is incredible,” said Kristine Marlow, President and CEO of the Montgomery County Food Bank. “As we’ve been recovering from the storm that hit Texas, so many people were affected in so many ways and we have served over 2,400 families just in the last five days. So you can imagine what a need we have,” she said. I’m encouraged by our youth, by this amazing spirit, and we’re grateful to be partners with you, and I’ll tell you, the food is going to get out very quickly.”
REFLECTIONS: Student Quotes from the Dedication Ceremony
“Today, just as we have done the past 21 years, we are able to dedicate a house that was built in service to others. In this case, our “house” will fill a home with meals to share.”
– Sydney Lipar `21, Student Body Service Chair
“Although we re-envisioned how to accomplish our goal, we once again have come together as a school community to build a house that will make a difference. Just as the Habitat Project strengthens our commitment to serving others, so has the 2021 Canstruction Project.”
–Kya Gill `21, Emma Grosser`21, Habitat Project Chairs
“I’d like to thank the PR team who helped get the word out about this project. We are grateful to all who responded by collecting cans, buying bricks and building “Habitat House 21.5.”
–Kendall Cooper `23, PR Team leader
“At Cooper, service is very important and that is demonstrated not only with all the people who have contributed to this house, but by multiple acts of kindness Dragons do every day. Service is at the heart of this community and this house is a testament to our Cooper Cares spirit.”
–Izzie Kneen `21, Interact Club President