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Donate the Can uses art to help feed hungry New Yorkers

All proceeds of this artistic endeavor from creative agency Juniper Jones go directly to City Harvest.

Consider, if you will, a can of food. When it’s empty, you toss it out (hopefully in the appropriate recycling bin), rarely giving it a second thought. But thanks to a new artistic endeavor, that simple can is being reimagined and repurposed to help feed the 1.3 million New Yorkers struggling to put food on their tables.

Created by Dumbo-based creative agency Juniper Jones, Donate the Can is an initiative that features can-inspired artworks from up-and-coming New York City artists that will ship to buyers in recycled cans — with 100 percent of proceeds benefitting food rescue pioneer City Harvest.

“The whole point of this is to remove obstacles for charitable giving and use City Harvest and the can as a metaphor for donations and food for those in need,” said Ryan McRee of Juniper Jones.

Starting later this week, New Yorkers will be able to purchase the artwork at donatethecan.com, and all donations will help City Harvest “rescue and deliver 59 million pounds of food … free of charge to 500 soup kitchens, food pantries and other community food programs across the five boroughs” this year, said Nicole Sumner, the nonprofit’s business partnerships manager. “We loved the creativity behind the idea and how it allows anyone to easily support our work feeding our neighbors.”

That’s what drew Brooklyn artist Bryce Wymer to take part in Donate the Can with his piece, which features a stark, shiny can against the backdrop of a hand in vibrant shades of blue.

“I have always been interested in exploring how my personal artwork can play a larger role in socially engaged projects, so when my friends at Juniper Jones told me about the Donate the Can initiative, I was more than happy to join the cause,” he said. “I personally feel that [artists] should all set aside the time to work on charitable projects such as this one.”

Donate the Can will continue indefinitely and will expand with new artists and items throughout the year. Visit donatethecan.com to take part or learn more.

How do you get creative with empty cans? 

Ryan McRee, Juniper Jones: “I have so many empty cans in my office right now. I’ve built a pretty veritable fort on my desk.”

Nicole Sumner, City Harvest: “I use an empty can on my desk to store pens and office supplies.”

Bryce Wymer, artist: “When I was a child, we used to make sculptures out of them. This is probably due to an underfunded school district. If you visited my studio today, you would find yourself amongst a sea of cans and containers filled with everything from brushes and pens to various pre-mixed paint colors covered with Saran Wrap.”