University of Iowa dance marathon takes on can drive in Kinnick
In Heaven, there is no beer – but there are plenty of beer cans littered among the stands at Kinnick Stadium after a game.
The University of Iowa Dance Marathon collects cans at the back doors and near the stadium as part of a new ‘Pop Pick Up’ program, with funds from recycled cans to support patients with pediatric cancer at UI Stead Family children’s hospital.
Alcohol is available for purchase at Kinnick Stadium for the first time this season, and empty cans left by fans will also go to Dance Marathon’s can-fundraising efforts.
Dance Marathon provides financial assistance to pediatric cancer and bone marrow transplant patients, said Liz Retikis, president of Dance Marathon Canning.
The range of costs that Dance Marathon helps pay with the money raised depends on the patient, Retikis said.
“We pay for some treatments,” Retikis said. “We pay for the gift cards when they’re in the hospital – they have gift cards for things like food and things they need. In fact, we pay part of the funeral costs if we lose a child. “
Throughout the summer and school year, Dance Marathon members collect donations to participate in the group’s 24-hour “Big Event” in February. Over the years, the organization has raised funds through canning ahead of the big event.
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“We go door to door, we organize soccer games and we ask people for donations, then it goes straight to our accounts to raise money to get to the big event,” Retikis said.
In addition to the cans collected by the volunteers, Dance Marathon receives the cans collected inside the stadium. The security team goes around and picks up the cans after games, said Michael Patterson, deputy director of facilities for the sports department.
“We use our security personnel, the [Contemporary Services Corporation], as the security provider at Kinnick Stadium, ”Patterson said. “So we use the staff they hire on game day to physically collect the cans for us right after this game. “
All collected cans are then placed in a trailer provided by Can Shed, a can recycling agency, Retikis said. There, members of the Dance Marathon sort and organize the cans.
“Kinnick was just as amazing,” Retikis said.
Even though Pop Pick Up is new this year, Beth MacKenzie, program manager in the Office of Sustainability, said there have been similar initiatives in the past. The Delta Tau Delta fraternity implemented a game day recycling program in 2012.
“Basically they had members of their fraternity showing up on match days two hours before kick-off, and they’d stand at the gates, and we put recycling bins around the stadium at the gates so that – when people were coming in – they could help participants sort their documents into the correct bin, ”said MacKenzie.
After Delta Tau Delta could no longer host the program due to the amount of manpower required, the program wore off, but the basis for the work was still there, MacKenzie said.
“It’s one of those things that the pieces were sort of there,” Retikis said. “I kind of brought them together in the program because there are so many opportunities with Kinnick and Can Shed and that’s how the program was designed. “
Once the cans are sorted, they are taken for disposal by Can Shed. Barcodes on cans are scanned to find the dispenser and then recycled, said Troy Willard, owner and CEO of Can Shed.
Recycling cans keeps them out of landfill, but also conserves resources, MacKenzie said.
“Aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable. They never lose their quality during the recycling process, so you can save a lot of resources by making new aluminum cans from old aluminum cans, ”she said. “This recycling process is therefore really efficient for aluminum. “
Dance Marathon gets the full deposit back on the can, Willard said, and Kinnick and the Can Shed do not take a percentage of the money raised.
“Whatever they do, we take it back,” Retikis said. “Can Shed – they gave us a 32ft trailer and hundreds of bags for free that we use every weekend. It’s been really wonderful, and we’re getting all this money, which is also wonderful. “
The Sustainability Office has helped promote the program, MacKenzie said.
“We do a lot of social media, sending it out in our newsletter, helping them reach different media sources,” MacKenzie said. “We provided them with contacts and various media contacts that we have to help them publicize the program, and we contacted the students. [organizations] with whom we connect quite regularly and which we sent to them.
Any student who helps pick up can receive a free ticket to the game, Retikis said.
There have been discussions about expanding the can collection efforts, she added. By expanding to neighborhoods, she said, they can collect from different populations.
“It was so amazing, and the support we got, even from the hatchbacks – they take bags from us now and put them in with their hatches – but in the future we hope to expand the canning efforts of neighborhood, ”Retikis said. “In two years, I want to see him everywhere. “