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Let’s Go Local: The 2018 CAN Sculpture

Reinvigorating a section of the Mississippi Riverfront, August Schell Brewing Company (Schell’s) recently relit the iconic Grain Belt Beer sign. Both Schell’s and Grain Belt boast local longevity with over a century of Minnesota history and business. Known for industry innovations and introducing craft beers to the Midwest in 1984, Schell’s purchased the beloved Minnesota label in August 2002. Since then, Schell’s has maintained its standing as the largest brewery in Minnesota. As Grain Belt Beer celebrates 125 years in 2018, the 48’ tall LED sign and the company it represents is a testament to Minnesota’s dedication to going local.

Depicting miniature versions of the Grain Belt Beer sign and part of the Hennepin Avenue bridge, VAA’s 2018 Canstruction build hopes to echo the landmark’s sentiment by shedding light on the issue of hunger in our local community. After a decade participating in this event, our team has seen thousands of meals contributed and dollars selflessly donated. We think of Canstruction as more than a friendly competition – it’s an iconic community effort toward change. Help support what’s local by reducing hunger in our community.

Why We Participate:
One decade. Thousands of cans. Countless lives impacted.

Canstruction is a non-profit organization responsible for organizing annual design-build competitions across the United States. Giant sized structures made entirely out of canned food are built and displayed as public art exhibits. At the close of the competition, the dismantled food used in the structures is donated to local food banks, which, in the Minnesota competition, is Second Harvest Heartland - the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief food organization.

VAA is proud to support Second Harvest Heartland (SHH) through monetary donations and participation in this event. This year’s annual Canstruction competition will be held September 15 – 17 in the Rotunda of the Mall of America. We hope you can join us or consider donating to the cause.

VAA is privileged to have Schell’s support for this year’s build.

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The VAA Plymouth office hosted Community Caring Campaign (CCC), a range of events and volunteer opportunities for employees over the course of two weeks. Championed by VAA’s Wellness and Outreach committee, the CCC raised nearly $50,000 along with providing supplies to those in need.

In line with the firm’s commitment to community, the CCC accepted pledges and volunteer time to support three selected local organizations:

Boys & Girls Club of the Twin Cities
Enables all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners (IOCP)
Partnering with VAA for the past decade, IOCP helps families living in eight Twin Cities western suburbs overcome barriers, believe in themselves and soar to new heights.

Second Harvest Heartland (SHH)
Partnering with VAA for the past decade, SHH is a local food shelf that leads through innovation, finding creative solutions to connect the full resources.

VAA supports SHH through monetary donations and participation in Canstruction, an event featuring giant structures made entirely out of canned food. Structures are built and displayed as public art exhibits until the food is donated to local food banks like SHH. In Minnesota, this year’s annual competition is held September 15 – 17 in the Rotunda of the Mall of America.

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Twenty-six VAA employees, friends and family participated in the 2018 Warrior Dash – a 5K race that raises funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Taking place in Le Sueur, MN, the race included 12 obstacles representing earth, air, fire and water. The VAA sponsored team raised over $1,800, contributing to the overall total of $14.8 million donated to date.

Warrior Dash events are held across the nation. Check the website for upcoming races near you.

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Echoing VAA’s overall outreach efforts, the Sioux Falls office recently volunteered to give back to their South Dakota community. The entire office participated in serving at The Banquet, the local meal center. Arriving at 6:00am, the VAA team helped serve breakfast to 262 people in need (including 24 children).

“The eagerness of our Sioux Falls employees to take part in the VAA Community Outreach Program is truly remarkable,” said Shawn Vanhove, manager of the VAA Sioux Falls office. “Finding ways to give back to the local community is something we take pride in as a company – it is great to see this mentality being carried on in our new office location.”

Operating in Sioux Falls, South Dakota for over 30 years, The Banquet’s mission is nourishing the community. All meals provided by the center are volunteer-based, meaning they are “paid for, prepared by, and served by volunteer groups who come from Sioux Falls and the surrounding area.” Learn more about the organization and how to volunteer on
The Banquet website.


Thirteen VAA employees volunteered in South St. Paul with Habitat for Humanity (Habitat). With a range of construction skill levels, the team was divided into groups to work on various aspects of the build. One larger group of employees framed and nailed sheathing (plywood attached to studs) in the garage and installed the scaffolding for the garage roof. A smaller group framed and almost completely installed a back porch.

Crystal Hoen, a VAA outreach participant and first-time Habitat volunteer, said the build was valuable service and team building. “It’s a totally different experience building a garage with your office coworkers. It was fun to see different strengths come together to get the job done. The build gave us an opportunity to see a design come together in the field, work with VAA people outside our usual teams and help a family in need.”

Locally, Habitat helps low income families in the Twin Cities community through programs like Habitat Homebuilding, A Brush with Kindness and Family Support Services. The organization as a whole operates worldwide, dedicated to empowering families by helping them “acquire the access, skills and financial education necessary for them to be successful homeowners.” Learn more about the organizations work or volunteering on the Twin Cities Habitat website.