USF students fashion an iPod, a bull’s head and a stadium out of donated canned goods

Anyone walking by the MLK Plaza on Monday morning witnessed a strange sight: several groups of students carefully arranging thousands of canned goods into various shapes.

When they were finished, passers-by saw a bull’s head, a football stadium, a huge iPod and others, all made of cans.

The students were participating in the sixth annual Charit-A-Bull, the first of the Homecoming festivities this week.

The event, sponsored by the Homecoming Steering Committee and the Center for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, pitted nine student teams against one another in a battle of wits and imagination.

The teams, mostly members of fraternities and sororities, were given 90 minutes to build the best sculpture they could from the canned goods they collected on their own. The only requirements were that the sculptures incorporate the Homecoming theme and show Bull pride, according to an event guide given to teams.

The results were judged by the quantity of cans used, relevance to Homecoming and overall creativity.

The Phoenician Bullies took first place with an oversized, USF-themed iPod built from 3,000 cans.

The Bullies’ victory was a nominal one, however.

For the third consecutive year, all the cans used by the teams will be donated to Metropolitan Ministries, which will put them to good use. Its “Boxes of Hope” program feeds about 14,000 families in Tampa each holiday season, said Amy Simon, the Director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Volunteerism.

“It’s not just about winning,” Bullies member Eddie Zaragoza said. “When we were going through neighborhoods and collecting (the canned goods), we saw the community getting involved and making a connection with the charitable cause.”

The inspiration for the iPod sculpture came from an idea that everyone can relate to and recognize the pop culture symbol, said Zaragoza, who is also the Alpha Kappa Psi Homecoming chair.

The team Party Like a Rock Star came in second place with a full-bodied bull, and the Grim Reapers’ sculpture, a representation of the Homecoming game against Cincinnati at Raymond James Stadium, placed third.

“We didn’t want to do the Bulls emblem because we figured a lot of teams would be doing it,” said Stephanie Heil, sophomore elementary education major and member of the Grim Reapers.

Local companies donated cans to the Bullies, provided the team promotes their businesses by distributing flyers during the Homecoming parade.

This year, more than 12,000 cans were collected – 5,000 more than last year – and Metropolitan Ministries is grateful for the donation.

“It’s a great blessing,” said Ana Martin, Public Relations and Community Events Coordinator for Metropolitan Ministries. “This enables us to serve more families.”