PIEDAD: Cans can’t




It’s 10:25a.m. The hum of the AC spreads around the room, but the sound of pencil lead scratching against a warm copy of a worksheet leaves you at an impasse for the next answer.

Suddenly, the door bursts open. Three bubbly people you’ve probably seen before enter the classroom and they demand cans like they’re a sacrifice for the yearly ritual.

Every year, it seems like every canned food drive this school attempts ends up hollow. Every motivator in the book has been used: from a free pass to skip a P.E. run to an indulgence to pardon the sins of failed tests and missing homework through extra credit. Last year presented a spiritual motivator by arranging a competition with Woodcreek High School while also acting as a collaborative effort.

This year, the motivator is cash – the holy grail of many generations. The promise was that the winning team would get $150 for anything they want, like a class party. With this, surely more students will cave in, right?

Perhaps not. In many cases, hauling cans to school for a higher count isn’t worth a $150 check that isn’t even a guarantee when it comes to bringing the victory for your class. The average can of food costs around a dollar, and if saving money is what a class as a whole is aiming for, then a count of at most 150 cans won’t always hit the winning target.

The point of a food drive is to provide for the less fortunate, giving people the strength they need to survive the unpredictability of life. Sure, without motivators, there would be a drastic decrease in donations due to pure disinterest. But with a task that relies on the compassion and effort of the donator, the bar raises high on pushing people to act.

The proxy charity in question is also a factor. Food drives ultimately serve the community, and an organization that is more local such as the Placer Food Bank, would be a more effective organization than the Salvation Army this food drive was using.

This is also considering the boiling pot that the Salvation Army is in, particularly the controversies surrounding it and its perceived values on the LGBTQ+ community, things that factor in an individual’s decision on participating in the drive.

In other words, this year’s food drive yielded another canned response by the student population.