GREENSBURG — A local project known as Canstruction turned creativity into philanthropy.

According to the Decatur County United Fund, Canstruction is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) competition designed to encourage students to use their ingenuity, creativity and skill to plan, design and construct imaginative structures utilizing only canned food items and limited supports.

Funding for the initiative was provided by the Decatur County United Fund Youth Endowment with each area high school receiving $1,650 to create their unique Canstruction design.

After the competition, the canned goods were donated to the Greensburg Bread of Life and Human Services Food Pantry to stock their shelves prior to the holidays.

“We actually did this in 2016, and had such a good response that we decided to bring it back this year,” Decatur County United Fund Executive Director Joane Cunningham said. “This really is an in-house project that gives back and it’s also something we believe in. It’s a creativity piece as well.”

At Greensburg Community High School, the local United Fund said art teacher Dustin Smith led the GCHS Art Club and fellow teachers to create a curved, three sided structure featuring the works of artists Frida Kahlo, Vincent Van Gogh and Gustave Couri.

At North Decatur Jr./Sr. High School, engineering teacher Allie Hunnicutt, along with her colleagues, led students in creating a depiction of the video game “Minecraft.”

Finally, at South Decatur Jr./Sr. High School, math teacher Lindsey Mays, with fellow teachers and students, designed and constructed a haunted castle complete with a corn maze made of canned corn, a giant spider, a haunted forest and a blood moon.

“Community support is what we’re based on,” Cunningham said. “This project goes hand in hand with those themes. Canstruction is an example of what you can accomplish when you reach out to the community.”

Judges for the projects, Jeff Hermesch and Christopher Fogle from the Decatur County Extension Office, noted the difficulty in selecting a winner for the competition, according to the United Fund.

A first place trophy and $300 was awarded to SDHS, a second place trophy and $200 was awarded to NDHS, and a third place trophy and $100 was awarded to GCHS.

Additionally, Most Creative Design was awarded to GCHS, and the Best Meal Award and the Student Choice Award were both won by SDHS.

All in all, the Canstruction project included a total of 6,337 canned items for a combined total of 5,674 pounds of food that will be donated to help feed those in need.

The United Fund said and additional 318 cans of food were collected by students.

While this was the first Canstruction project in Decatur County since 2016, Cunningham indicated she’d like to see it return.

“We hope so,” Cunningham said. “It’s very well received by the schools and the community.”

Joshua Heath can be contacted at 812-663-3111 ext. 217401 or at

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