When the staff at The Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene heard last week that the local food bank desperately needed food to fill its shelves, they launched into action.
They secured donation bins, designed posters requesting assistance, e-mailed all 20,000 of their members and purchased $2,000 worth of food to donate.
Then Maj. John Chamness, the Kroc’s executive director, decided to have a little fun to attract more attention to the cause. He called Kevin Jester, one of the architects who designed the community center, and asked him to build a castle in the Kroc’s lobby with the donated food.
On Friday, Jester stood atop a table, precariously balancing cans of green beans and young sweet peas to form the castle’s tower. The different can sizes and shapes made the tower “a lot more difficult” than designing the Kroc, Jester declared. He pulled out a measuring tape and said he would have preferred to make the tower five feet high but worried about its stability.
“I would like to go one more row then stand back and assess the situation,” he told the team of people he brought over from Architects West. They formed walls from cans of corn and a courtyard from canned chicken, topped with boxes of macaroni and cheese.
Carolyn Shewfelt, program manager for the Community Action Partnership food bank, looked at the castle and piles of food in amazement. Cases of macaroni, canned tuna, ravioli, chili and peaches sat on the floor awaiting delivery to the food bank.
“I’m mind-boggled by this,” Shewfelt said as she watched Jester and his team work. She said the food bank has seen greatly increased demand this year over last. By the end of July, the food bank had served 3,384 more people than through the same month a year ago, she said. Recently expanded service to two homeless shelters has added about 200 people to the ranks.
“I can’t ignore the need just because our pantry looks dry,” Shewfelt said.
Chamness said about 2,500 people will walk by the castle while it’s being built, and all will learn about the need that exists in the community.
“The Kroc Center is about community,” Chamness said. “It’s one way we can educate the community about different things.”
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