UC Berkeley Students Trick-Or-Treat for Canned Food Donations

Photo: Lucas Zucker and Allie Cohen wore costumes on Halloween but asked for canned goods rather than candy. Items collected during the Trick-or-Can event go to the Alameda Food Bank.
Sean Goebel/Photo
Lucas Zucker and Allie Cohen wore costumes on Halloween but asked for canned goods rather than candy. Items collected during the Trick-or-Can event go to the Alameda Food Bank.

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Instead of collecting buckets of candy on Halloween Saturday evening, more than a dozen UC Berkeley students filled suitcases with donations of canned food.

As part of the CalPIRG-sponsored "Trick-or-Can" event, students-some sporting fake mustaches and face paint-went door-to-door collecting canned food to donate to the Alameda County Community Food Bank and toiletries for the Berkeley Suitcase Clinic.

"We're way too old to trick-or-treat, but there's definitely a kid in all of us who wants to dress up," said sophomore Allie Cohen, an English major. "Trick-or-Can, it's a good way to actually do something productive and helpful."

According to the Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness Web site, the campaign is a facet of CalPIRG that in the past has organized programs to help the homeless and held other events to fight poverty on a local, state and federal level.

According to the 2005 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, more than 166,000 people in Alameda County live in poverty. Junior Melissa Chu, coordinator for the campaign, said she sees Trick-or-Can as a means of tackling an overwhelming issue.

"I definitely think (hunger) is a big problem in our own community, and it is a problem that people want to solve," she said. "(We're) teaching students how to make things happen."

This is the second time CalPIRG has organized the event. Chu estimates that they collected about 500 items last year. After counting this year's donations, freshman Mika Ciotola, a coordinator of Trick-or-Can, said

community members contributed 465 food items and 29 toiletries.

"I think it's great that they're out here doing something for the community," said Larry Ochs, whos has lived in Berkeley for 32 years and donated to the project.

Group members are already focused on next year, saying they will try to make the event bigger and better. However, the effort to reduce hunger in Alameda County will not be put on hold until next Halloween. CalPIRG will hold a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week from Nov. 16 through Nov. 20 to educate students about poverty issues.

"It makes people think about poverty, about what a problem it is," Chu said. "And hopefully they're inspired to do something about it."


Contact Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato at [email protected]

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