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‘Superheroes’ design emblems for charity

Purdue University official Tim Sanders gestures Friday June 27 2014 while working with Boy Scouts from Troop 456 Portage while

Purdue University official Tim Sanders gestures Friday, June 27, 2014, while working with Boy Scouts from Troop 456, in Portage, while planning to make the Avengers emblem out of cans at Ivy Tech Community College in Valparaiso. The group participated in Northwest Indiana's first Canstruction, a national charity to fight hunger. | Michael Gonzalez/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 28, 2014 2:01AM



VALPARAISO — Nearly 100 area kids learned how to work together, designed ways to turn thousands of cans of food into superhero emblems and helped supply 42,000 much needed meals to hungry families throughout Northwest Indiana.

Ten groups, from YMCAs and YWCAs to Campagna Academy and Boys and Girls Clubs, packed classrooms at Ivy Tech Community College’s Valparaiso campus Friday for the design camp phase of Canstruction, a national charity sponsored by the Society of Design Administration designed to ease some of the hunger plaguing parts of the country.

This is the first time Canstruction has come to the area, said Angie Williams, director of community impact for Lake Area United Way and one of the driving forces behind the event.

“We picked superheroes because we tend to think heroes are someone we see in comic books or on TV,” Williams said. “But these kids are superheroes because they’re giving of their time, energy and themselves to help the greater good, to believe they can do something to change the world.”

The Lake Area and Porter County United Ways teamed up with U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky on this food drive with a twist. The canned goods will go the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and food pantries.

With direction from coaches, engineers or engineering students, the teams used photographs, graph paper and colored pencils to design the emblems. Those designs will be submitted to Purdue University Calumet’s Center for Innovation Through Visualization and Simulation, where they will be converted to three-dimensional designs.

The teams will work with Purdue students and professors to determine if their designs will work.

The final step will be a daylong competition at Southlake Mall on July 25.

Each team has up to $2,500 in cans to work with, paid for by local corporations, like Enbridge Inc., the Schererville-based energy company, or BMW Constructors in Munster, but more help is needed, Williams said.

After the July competition, the canned food will be turned into the thousands of meals.

Along with designing superhero emblems using different sizes and colors of cans, the teams had to remain within a budget to make it happen.

Aaron Reist, 14, of Portage, and his Boy Scout Troop 456 planned out the Avengers emblem, a black-and-white design featuring a capital “A” in a semi-circle.

“It’s difficult to grasp the concept of how you’re going to build it,” Reist said. “It teaches us a lot about budgeting, as well, and it teaches how you can’t always do what you want because you may not have enough money to do it.”

Amber Johnson, 13, of Gary, who will be a freshman at Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts in the fall, said the fun part will come when the teams actually start moving cans into a design.

“It’s a different experience,” she said, while working on a sheet of graph paper. “Everyone has to work together to make it happen. It’s not so hard if everyone cooperates”

Wearing a black T-shirt with “Live United” in bold, white letters, Trina Salvisberg, an engineer with Enbridge Energy, said she volunteered for the event to try something new and maybe make a difference for someone else.

“It’s just a really interesting concept, and it’s a great opportunity to work with some kids,” she said. “I can get out of the office and do something that’s fun. It’s something I’m really enjoying.”

To sponsor a local Canstruction team, call T.J. Holsen of the Lake Area United Way at (219) 923-2302 or e-mail Tjholsen@luaw.org.



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