CAMDEN — This holiday season, Rutgers–Camden chemistry students concocted a creative solution to collect canned foods to donate to needy families and help the fight against hunger.
You can say that their commitment helped others at a molecular level.
The students brought in canned goods and donated them to the Food Bank of South Jersey, but first, they used the cans to construct the molecules they observe in their own lab work.
Using construction paper, the students labeled each can as an element, grouped them together, and represented their bonds to other elements by tying ribbons around the cans. The result was a large scale molecule sculpture.
“It’s nice to be able to help others, especially this time of year and especially in a city such as Camden,” says Marissa Ionno, a junior biology major from Blackwood. “Donating five or six cans each can make a big difference for some families this holiday season.”
Ionno’s group created the Tryptophan molecule, which is found in turkey and known to make people tired.
This marks the 18th year that Rutgers–Camden students participated in the project, which is inspired by the nationwide “canstruction” initiative. Canstruction is a national charity that has contributed more than 17.5 million pounds of food to community food banks across the country through unique sculpture designs.
This year, the Rutgers–Camden students donated 510 pounds of canned goods to the Food Bank of South Jersey.
The food bank’s mission is to provide food to needy people, teach them to eat nutritiously, and help them to find sustainable ways to improve their lives.
“It’s a nice way to give back,” says Jetmir Vojnika, a junior biology major from Maple Shade. “Participating in a project like this gets everyone in the spirit of helping others.”
Approximately 90 undergraduate biology and chemistry students in six different organic chemistry labs participated in the project during a break in their lab work.
“It’s important for students to be engaged in their community,” says Mary Craig, an assistant chemistry lab instructor who organizes Rutgers–Camden’s canstructuion project. “The project is a way to be conscious of other people and how to help them out.”
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Media Contact: Ed Moorhouse