Thinking Outside the Can

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Our can opener has been on the fritz.

Simply opening a can of tomato sauce has proven to be an ordeal.  The blade was not catching, causing several starts and stops and resulting in what looked like Morse code on the lids.

What I could have accomplished in the time I spent trying to open a can of black beans the other night.

Finally, after weeks of heated exchanges between the can opener and myself, I admitted it was time to let go of the old. I picked a sleek red Kitchen Aid can opener.

A curious thing, how a new can opener can cause quite a flurry of excitement.

When I got home I felt I had a new lease on life. Suddenly the Progresso chicken noodle soup was again a viable option. A tuna sandwich could be an easy lunch once more.

It got me thinking about canned food in general.  Although hungry people rely on the kindness of strangers throughout the year, the holidays are the most common time to hold a food drive. As Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol,” the holidays are a time when “want is most keenly felt, and abundance rejoices.”

Canned food drives are a wonderful way to get food to needy families quickly and easily.  Thousands of people give each year at virtually every school, church, synagogue, or through each Girl or Boy Scout troop, donating cans of food for people who are in dire need.  Our kids this year did their part by participating their school’s food drive.

The trouble with my can opener opened my eyes to another problem the needy may have. I had to wonder, are there enough can openers for the all the canned goods? Should we not also be collecting a reliable way to have access to the food in the cans?

Wouldn’t it be nice for some of the food banks and food pantries around town to have a few extra can openers available should the need arise?  The soup kitchens nearby open many oversized cans a day and should be able to do so with ease.

The thought of a hungry person frustrated by a crappy can opener was just too much for me to bear.

I decided to begin my own can opener drive. I began by making several calls inquiring about the need for can openers at local food banks.

Stephanie from the Second Harvest Food Bank e-mailed me back,

“We can definitely use can openers here at the food bank,” she wrote.

“Our non-profits can definitely use can openers, especially those who serve homeless clientele! If you could give me a call or shoot me an email to let me know how we might be able to move forward with getting can openers (and cans!) donated, that would be fantastic.”


Veronica from SOS left me a voicemail, “I got your message regarding can openers. We can definitely use them. We have quite a big homeless population that occasionally asks for a can opener.”

I gathered small donation of can openers that I dropped off just in time for Thanksgiving.

Knowing I may have helped a stranger in such a simple way made me feel good inside.

So cans are not be the only things opened this season. I was reminded of the importance of keeping myself open to giving where and when I can.








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