Once a year, the St. Louis Mills Mall holds a contest to see which architectural students can build the best piece of “art” out of cans and clear postal tape. Businesses contribute the cans, which are passed along to food pantries when the contest is over.

An explanation accompanied each construction, a paragraph explaining how it symbolized the need for food pantries. The teenage mutant ninja turtle and Wall E are the sorts of heroes who help people in need.

The roller coaster symbolizes the harsh ups and downs of those in need of food.

I don’t remember what the lighthouse and jalopy paragraphs said, but you can figure something out. Every structure was kind of a stretch anyway, as far as symbolizing the need for charity.

Mall walkers were invited to contribute cans at their favorite sites and vote for the best of the dozen or fourteen entries. That part doesn’t work. I saw a total of maybe seven cans. Not surprising. I mean, who happens to arrive at a mall carrying cans of food, just in case there’s a CANstruction contest going on?

But never mind. The businesses contribute about 50,000 cans altogether, which is equivalent to 78,000 meals. That’s well worth doing, at least once a year.

And besides, the architectural students probably had fun.