A Guide to Canning: FTK FTW

On this last weekend before THON 2009, Penn Staters could be found standing at intersections, often on thin strips of median, in nearly every Pennsylvania suburb. But a canning weekend is more than just the act of standing on street corners begging for money. Raising funds before THON is an experience as essentially Penn State as tailgating a football game.

Deodorant: WIN
Lawnmower: FAIL

In preparation for the weekend, students pack light and smart: a couple changes of clothes (including stuff to keep warm), a camera, an iPod, and any hygienic products they deem appropriate. The key is practicality.

Varied generally pleasant music: WIN
Four hours of death metal: FAIL

Once everyone’s packed, cars generally leave on Friday evening for the Host’s home. Depending on who is hosting, the drive can range anywhere from a quick half-hour ride to a 5 or more hour road trip. Whatever the length, a good soundtrack is a must. It is important that the driver and passengers are considerate of each other’s preferences.

Pasta and brownies: WIN
Tripe and papaya: FAIL

When the ride is over and all the playlists are finally exhausted, the host family generally has some snacks waiting to fuel the canners for the upcoming excursion. Carb-loaded dishes and plenty of sugar is traditional, but one never knows what to expect.

Waking up to the smell of pancakes: WIN
Waking up to the smell of other canners: FAIL

It’s important to get plenty of sleep, but almost nobody seems to believe it that first night. With 6:30 am as the usual wake-up time, the average amount of sleep on Friday night is about four to five hours. It does not make for a pretty picture when the cell phone alarms start to go off.

Get the rest of our analysis after the jump.

Quick bite at Chick-Fil-a: WIN
Four courses at La Bec-Fin: FAIL

Saturday canning is intense, often lasting from 8 in the morning until around 4 in the afternoon. After the initial burst of energy, a noon lunch break is appropriate. This usually means stopping at a fast food place nearby where canners eat in shifts, so someone can hold down the fort at The Intersection. The intersection you are stationed at becomes something you treasure and guard with your life. Unless the pizza smells reeeallly good.

People in crappy cars: WIN
People in nice cars: FAIL

After lunch it’s back to the streets. At this point, canners have gotten a good look at the people of the town and their driving / giving habits. Although anyone at any time might give you money, one does start to notice certain donating trends—and not ones you’d expect. In fact, it seems the more likely someone is to have money, the less likely they’ll give it to an adorable dancing canner.

Money kitty: WIN
Money grandpa: FAIL

Saturday canning is over when the traffic (money- and car-wise) slows down, the sun goes down, or the canners fall down. Then, it’s time to head back to base camp to count the money. It starts with a massive pile of cash, which pets or small children may roll around in, thus earning them the title “Money [whoever was reveling in the cashola].”

Late night chats with an old friend: WIN
Late night sex with a new friend: FAIL

Saturday night is a night of revelry, Apples to Apples, and more carbo loading. Everyone enjoys the post-canning splendor, and many are high with the sense of accomplishment. Some may take the opportunity to further the depth of their relationships with fellow team members, platonically or otherwise. However, it is important to observe social etiquette; there are parents upstairs.

Macarena on the median: WIN
Pole dancing on a stop sign: FAIL

Sunday morning finds our canners stiff from the previous day of shaking heavy cans of change and the previous night spent on the floor, sofa, countertop, or whichever surface was available at the time. This last day of canning may find more creative dancing, for those sick of their old moves from Saturday, which may, in turn, lead drivers to wonder just what it is they are donating money for.

Sleeping it off in the back seat: WIN
Sleeping it off at the wheel: FAIL

Finally, after lunch and packing up, it’s time to drive home to Happy Valley. Everyone’s exhausted and broke, having emptied half their wallets for the cause and the other half into the drivers’ gas tanks, so it’s understandable to have a little snooze in the car. Just try not to snore louder than the stereo, and try to not be the one driving.

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About the Author

Dana Kimmelman

Dana Kimmelman is a SENIOR studying Psychology and Philosophy. She hasn't updated her profile in a long time, and she knows that it's just not Snowflake Day without a lamb taco.

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