“Canning” is a fundraising method for Penn States “largest student-run philanthropy in the world” AKA THON (or Dance Marathon) which raises money for the Four Diamonds Foundation, an organization that supports kids and families with pediatric cancer. My passion for THON is no where near the equivalent of many of my friends who are involved much more heavily with fundraising and the like, but I still wanted to be part of the experience. The actual act of canning involves standing in front of stores with large cans that once held massive quantities of tomatoes and beans and asking people to donate money. It’s something of an experiment. What can I do to make people give us money? Does smiling really big at grumpy people make their day better or worse?
Last weekend, I went canning with the Landscape Architecture Student Society (LASS). We headed down to Columbia MD, and were hosted by the family of one of my friends. Although we arrived after dark, her family had an amazing spread of food for the 20 of us! We chatted for a while and watched Zootopia on Netflix (a great animated film by the way) and went to bed.
After a morning breakfast, we headed out to inner harbor with our cans empty and our hearts full of dreams. Multiple events going on along the waterfront prevented us from spreading out as much as we wanted to but we made due. We brought Bluetooth speakers, costumes, and of course I brought my ukulele! It was fun to play for the people passing by. Some of them would smile or kinda bob to the music. Lots of people donated money. It felt rude to be asking people to donate. Most of our encounters were very positive but there were a few less enthusiastic people but nobody particularly unpleasant.It’s definitely fascinating to hear people explain why they are or aren’t giving money. “I was a dancer in THON!” (She gave us a sizable donation) or “If you were wearing an Ohio State tshirt I would give you a thousand bucks!” (He didn’t give us money).
After 8 hours, we packed up and reconvened at the house for dinner and money counting.
Day two was much shorter. Me and a few others from our group set up in front of a Panera. I didn’t play uke because it would ruin the Panera atmosphere. We didn’t stay very long since we had to get back to campus and we didn’t expect to get an appreciable amount of money from the venture. But, we did much better than we thought we would. Of course now, I don’t remember the total, but after pulling all the money together from our various canning groups, we reached somewhere in the range of $1,400! Not too shabby for a rag-tag gang of larchies!
My first canning trip was a wonderful experience and definitely rewarding and I’m super glad that I went, even though I let a bunch of work pile up over the last weekend. And those LASS people are pretty awesome too!