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Holiday Food Drive

Fiserv's Bobby Hemmer, director of optimization services, left, and Praveen Naik, software engineering manager, pause for a photo with an lighthouse made of donated food in the company's lobby Friday afternoon in Corvallis. (Amanda Cowan | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Employees build 8-foot-4-inch lighthouse from food donated for Linn Benton Food Share

The cans were stacked with a purpose, Pat Leathrum explained. It involved spreadsheets and designs.

“This was a bunch of computer geeks, so we overdid it, obviously.”

But it was all in a good cause. For the 10th year or so, the “couple hundred” employees who work at Fiserv, a company that develops software for credit unions and banks, turned their skills to a food drive to benefit Linn Benton Food Share.

The main focus was on raising cash because, Leathrum said, the Food Share staff can really stretch that money to buy in bulk and get large quantities of food.

But as a way to showcase the effort, they also decided to build something visible. After thinking of making a ship and a lighthouse, the concept was narrowed to a lighthouse, decorated by an “island of lost toys” beside the company Christmas tree in its offices south of Philomath Boulevard.

A nine-member committee has worked on the project for months, using spreadsheets and some careful color coding:

The white labels of Del Monte green beans and peas made up the lighthouse base; the darker red labels are green beans and topping all that is soup of some kind that had a darker red label.

“We placed water bottles all around the top to refract the light,” said Leathrum, who is a lead software engineer.

The “sand” between the lighthouse and the island of lost toys is pasta. (“It’s still in the bag, of course.”)

The display formed the backdrop to the company potluck. Leathrum said employees contributed $3,200 in cash in addition to the 1,522 nonperishable items. Many of them were used to make the 8-foot, 4-inch lighthouse, which took four hours to assemble and equip up with a light.

“The big challenge now is topping it next year,” he said.

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