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Cans turned into spaceship, wrestling ring to fight hunger

"Blast Hunger Off LI," made with 2,500 cans by Friends Academy in Locust Valley, won the award for Juror's Favorite at Canstruction Long Island 2013, a building competition and charity that helps fight hunger. (Oct. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

A spaceship — made of cans of tuna and vegetables — rest atop cans of tomato paste and baked beans, a dusty-colored mix of cans meant to resemble the surface of Mars.

The giant sculpture “Send Hunger Out of This World,” built by H2M Architects + Engineers in Melville using 6,048 cans, was among the nine can structures entered into a contest and on display at a Uniondale office complex starting today through Nov. 6.

Architectural, engineering and construction firms, some working with local students, spent nearly 12 hours on Wednesday at RXR Plaza creating these structures for Canstruction Long Island, a building competition and charity that helps fight hunger.

Chris Sagistano’s team, H2M Architects + Engineering, won the awards for Most Cans and Structural Ingenuity, announced during a reception Thursday night at RXR Plaza.

“Our motto is, ‘If you can think it, you can build it,’” said Sagistano, 28, of Lake Grove. “We were here until 2 a.m. last night making this structure work. Though we’ve won many awards over the years, it’s still a nice accomplishment for a great cause.”

Since 2007, participants of the charity have donated 264,000 cans of food and thousands of dollars to help feed the hungry. After Nov. 6., the cans used in the contest will be donated to the Long Island Cares Harry Chapin Food Bank in Hauppauge.

“We’re thrilled with the creativity these teams have displayed this year,” said Tracy Lobdell, 56, of Huntington, executive director of Canstruction Long Island. “The structures alone will be donating 32,737 cans of food to the bank.”

During the reception, the sculptures were judged by a panel of five based on the best use of labels, structural ingenuity, nutritional assortment and number of cans, among others.

One of the judges, Beverly Fortune, publisher of Milieu, a Long Island women’s magazine, found beauty in the butterfly structure that won Juror’s Favorite called “If Nothing Ever Changed...There Would Be No Butterflies,” which was created by Lines & Designs.

“I can appreciate something that’s pleasing to the eye,” Fortune said. “This is a very sustainable competition. Collecting thousands of cans, making something beautiful out of them and then being able to feed families in need is just remarkable.”

Until Nov. 6, the public is welcome to drop off cans of food in boxes at their favorite structure. The cans will act as votes to help the structure win the People’s Choice award.

Susan Sassoon’s team, the Rosenbaum Design Group, created the structure “Fighting to End Hunger,” which took nine months of planning and five hours to build. A 6-foot wrestler made of cans celebrates in the center of a WWE ring after “defeating” hunger.

“We’re very happy with how it turned out,” said Sassoon, a senior associate with the Lake Success architecture firm. “We went to great lengths to get it just right and I’m proud of what we accomplished.”

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