By Mark Ambrogi
When volunteering at the White River Christian Church food pantry in Noblesville, Connor and Maddie Reiff noticed some visitors were not taking canned food.
“When we asked them why they weren’t getting it; we were told they couldn’t open it if it didn’t have a pull top,” Connor said.
So they discussed a solution and decided to start a project titled, “Can’t Open It? We Can Help!” The mission was to provide a new can opener for each family. They began the project in February 2016 by applying for and receiving a grant from the Youth as Resources through the United Way of Central Indiana for $650.
Connor, 13, is a seventh grader at Noblesville East Middle School and Maddie, 10, is a fourth grader at White River Elementary School.
In April, Connor and Maddie held a lemonade stand at Fishers’ New Hope Presbyterian Church and raised $265 for the project.
They spoke at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis in May 2016, sharing their idea and concern about people not being able to open canned food and received can opener donations. They approached White River Elementary School to request that can openers be added to the list of items donated during the Holiday Food Drive, which was accomplished.
They have received donations from friends, family, churches, schools and neighbors, their mother Sarah Reiff said.
Connor and Maddie were able to purchase enough can openers to provide every guest at the food pantry a brand new can opener.
The church’s food pantry averages 250 families each week, translating to approximately 1,000 people. Big Lots in Noblesville collected 250 can openers from all over the state for the children to purchase. The Big Lots store manager in Noblesville made a $50 donation project as well. The Reiff siblings collected more than $1,000 and began to give away the can openers just before Christmas, on Dec. 22.