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UNI student raises more than $28,000 for Meals On Wheels during financial hardship

Meals on Wheels fundraiser

MARION, Iowa (KWWL) -- Horizon's Meals on Wheels program faced a large financial deficit after it had to cancel it's annual summer fundraising event.

However, a UNI student stepped up with a 'can'-do attitude to help make up for some of the loss during the pandemic.

Today, Senior Chandler DeWees presented a check to the non-profit following a two-month long can-collection and donation drive.

However, he didn't do it all alone, the Can Shed in Marion partnered up to help do the leg work of processing the cans.

Altogether, the group said there was just shy of one million cans donated to the cause which came to a grand total of $28,406 for Horizon's Meals on Wheels program.

"The original goal was $5,000, and it skyrocketed past that in the first two weeks so that was amazing," said DeWees.

The can drive was originally scheduled to take place this fall on grandparent's day, however with the financial uncertainty during the pandemic they decided to start in May to help cover losses.

"We were kind of in a tough spot, you know, with a pandemic we could not do our normal fundraising event we have," said Horizon's C.F.O., Peg Moses, "So we were looking at this deficit of about $30,000."

On top of that, Moses said their Meals On Wheels program is one of the largest in the country and serve about 1,200 seniors.

"We're serving in a week thousands of meals so it ranges, also do shelf-stable food boxes but it's from four to six or 7,000 meals go out every week," said Moses.

With can redemption spots closed across the area, The Can Shed said it was willing to do the leg work as they opened their new Marion facility.

"This exceeded everybody's expectations because like I said that's over 900,000 containers," said Can Shed Owner, Troy Willard, "That's just a lot of community support there."

For those donating their cans, instead of getting a nickel back .03 cents went to the can shed and the other .02 cents went to offset labor.

"We set a goal, we just kept on exceeding it so it was amazing," DeWees.

"Overwhelming response so we go from what we thought might be a few thousand dollars in can drive over 28,000, so I said it's kind of crazy," said Moses.

All started by a college senior who wanted to a make a difference to an organization he felt connected to after to write grants for the non-profit earlier this year.

"It's just overwhelming," said DeWees.

The Can Shed will be open for it's first day of operations tomorrow, July 2nd after it's ribbon cutting today.

Click here to for hours and it's address.

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Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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