Can-do Attitude

In recent years, we have found a way to make the can drive that benefits Helping Hand into a competition between the home rooms. The results produced more cans, but has the competition taken away from the focus on feeding the poor? When it comes to charitable causes, do the ends justify the means?

The can drive did not start out as competitive as it is currently. In fact up until just last year, there was barely any competition at all. Mr. Steve Aday saw this, and he decided to make a change. “The day they announced the can drive, I just started going around to all my classes, my religion, study halls, and everything,” said Mr. Aday. “We were going to beat Mount [Saint Mary’s]. The goal was to beat Mount.”

And in the end, it worked. Last year, we exceeded all previous years and beat mount by coming together and competing with each other. “The faculty, and several clubs, and then the seniors, they really kind of got behind [the idea of] let’s make this a bigger deal,” said Mr. Aday. “You throw a competition to a lot of guys, and those guys are happily going to hop on.”

However, some might argue that having such a focus on the competition is superficial and hurts the meaning of something like giving to the poor. After all, even Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”

Mr. Aday has a different point of view to this controversy. “I understand completely the whole when you give alms don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, and that you should give to the poor for the sake of giving to the poor, but I also think that these boys, these kids, can learn a valuable lesson about service to other people while doing this and also it becoming a bit of a competition,” said Mr. Aday.

He thinks the can drive even inspires a bit of humility. “You hear a lot of these kids, especially by the end of the can drive, that have done all of these things, they’ve gone out of their way because they want to win, but they don’t want others to know that ‘I gave 100 dollars’, or ‘hey I brought in 500 cans today because last night I walked around in my neighborhood for three hours collecting cans’,” said Mr. Aday. “They humbly turn these cans in because the home room might win overall, but you don’t hear ‘John doe in the junior class brought in 3,000 cans by himself.’”

Mr. Aday thinks that the humility and charity of giving to the poor can coexist and even be helped by the competitiveness of the recent can drives, but what do other members of the school think? Dr. Jennifer Gilley understands and supports Mr. Aday’s idea. “I understand that the overall, the overarching goal of the can drive is a charitable event. At the same time I think that sometimes it’s necessary to give some sort of motivation or incentive to do our best every year,” said Dr. Gilley. “In the end, it’s still benefiting the people who need food, which is the whole point in the first place.” Junior Michael Miller agrees, even if not on a personal level. “It didn’t motivate me as much, but I know there are some people that it really helped. People that get more into intramurals and wanted things like the by and things like that.”

At the end of the day, the food still gets to the poor, competition or not. The only difference is, with the competition, much more food is delivered. Sure it might seem a bit pretentious and contradictory to revel in the glory of beating another homeroom in cans, but odds are the people receiving the food don’t have a problem with it.

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