Student leaders listen to Rabbi Eitan Webb, right, at a celebration of the recent holiday food drive. At left is the "canorah," a menorah made of canned goods that will be donated to a food bank in Trenton. (Courtesy Francesca Furchtgott ’12)

By Katy Pinke ’10

Students walking to formal dinners at eating clubs Dec. 12 were struck by the vision of a giant menorah made out of canned goods, standing in the front lawn of Quadrangle Club. The structure was the product of "Giving Back at Formals," a holiday can drive that garnered participation from a wide range of student groups. The campaign was spearheaded by Princeton's Chabad House. The menorah, dubbed the "canorah" by event organizers, was built out of hundreds of cans purchased with money raised at the Frist Campus Center and donated by event sponsors.

The message of the event was both altruistic and spiritual. Yosef Razin ’11 and Will Herlands ’12 designed the "canorah," and student volunteers completed its construction on Thursday, a few days in advance of club formals, which fell on Hanukkah this year. To add to the holiday spirit, the Princeton University Band lined up around the menorah to play holiday music in the early afternoon on the day of formals. Cans and other donations will be driven to the food bank in Trenton this week.

On Facebook, reminders sent to the student body read: "Do you ever feel like you lose sense of the bigger picture on winter formals when you only think about the band that will be playing or whether your want steak or chicken? Well, here is a chance for us students to give back."

The idea was hatched at the beginning of November, when the Chabad student board convened in hopes of creating a charity event that would be larger in scale than its past efforts. To do that, students decided to organize an event that reached far outside the Jewish community. Fifteen student groups co-sponsored the event, including several of the eating clubs, the Interfaith Youth Group, residential colleges, the men's soccer team, Triangle Club, and the CJL men's club. Zackory Burns ’10, the president of Quadrangle Club, was a project co-organizer.

"We were surprised with how much support we got," said Zachary Liebmann ’11, president emeritus of the Chabad student board. "Once word got out, people we didn't know, who had never been to Chabad and who weren't even members of co-sponsoring groups, became actively involved and took on leadership roles."