By Riley Manning
TUPELO – After hours of construction, the dust has settled on the United Way food sculpture competition.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect,” said United Way campaign and communications associate Robin Matkin. “We were blown away at what they came up with.”
MTD made an impressive showing with their veggie can lawnmower, as did Franklin Manufacturing Corporation with a motorized recliner of saltine crackers, but Toyota’s robotic arm won out in the end.
The massive construction incorporated more than 2,000 packages of Ramen noodles and hundreds of cans of tomato soup. Toyota intern Dylan Shockley, the brains behind the sculpture, said it took around two weeks to plan and construct.
“It was a lot of fun,” said the University of Mississippi mechanical engineering major. “We modeled the frame after one of our body-welding robots, and designed it on our auto CAD drafting system. It came together much better than we thought it would.”
Food used for sculptures was collected in-office by individual companies, and after the contest, the victuals were divided and distributed among the United Way’s eight food pantries in Northeast Mississippi.
The Friday event doubled as this year’s Day of Caring in conjunction with the United Way’s celebration of its 2013 campaign. The United Way exceeded its goal of $2.4 million last year, earning more than it has in its 52-year service to the area.
The event also recognized companies and individuals crucial to the success of last year’s efforts.
Toyota received an award Friday from United Way for increasing company giving by $79,000 over last year’s campaign. Total Toyota giving for the campaign was $171,233 with additional donations bringing that total at more than $200,000. Also, MTD was given the Distinguished Service award for its commitment to excellence through the course of the campaign.
FMC Technologies earned the Advancement award, given for the biggest dollar increase by a company giving less than $10,000, bringing the total given up to $8,056.
And finally, MTC was given the Distinguished Service award for its commitment to excellence through the course of the campaign.