The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Noblesville’s Connor Reiff, 14, and his sister Maddie Reiff, 11, give donated can openers to those in need at the White River Christian Church Food Pantry in Noblesville.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Noblesville’s Connor Reiff, 14, and his sister Maddie Reiff, 11, give donated can openers to those in need at the White River Christian Church Food Pantry in Noblesville.

When two Noblesville siblings who volunteer at the White River Christian Church Food Pantry noticed that some recipients were not taking the canned food, they wanted to know why.
And when they found out that the reason was because some people didn’t own a can opener, Connor Reiff and his sister, Maddie, decided they needed to help.
While discussing the issue over dinner with their mom, they came up with the slogan, “Can’t Open It? We Can Help!”
The siblings solicit donations of new can openers and give the can openers to food pantry recipients.

They started the project 22 months ago, in February 2016. They applied for and received a $650 grant from the Youth as Resources through United Way of Central Indiana. Then, that spring, the siblings manned a lemonade stand at New Hope Presbyterian Church, earning $265. They sold their old toys. They spoke at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis, sharing their idea and concern about people not being able to open canned foods, and received more can-opener donations.
I caught up with them as they manned a table at the White River Christian Church Food Pantry, as they gave away can openers to anyone who wanted them during the pantry’s open hours, which are 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays.
They made presentations to their own teachers and school classes. “I told my teachers what we are doing and why we are doing it,” said Maddie, 11, a fifth-grader at White River Elementary.
They spoke in front of church congregations, and crafted decorated donation boxes where donations are accepted in the church’s office, 1685 N. 10th St., and in the Noblesville Educational Services Building, 18025 River Road.
Connor and Maddie approached White River Elementary to request that can openers be added to the list of sought-after donation items during the holiday food drive.
Since then, they have received donations from friends, families, churches, schools, neighbors and even people out of state who hear about their project. With the donations, plus an additional $50 from Noblesville Big Lots, which provided can openers at a reduced cost, the siblings could purchase enough new can openers for every guest at the food pantry, which serves more about 250 families, or 1,000 people, per week.
“They come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common. They are hungry,” said their mom, Sarah Reiff, who supports her children’s efforts alongside their dad, Adam Reiff.
Connor and Maddie continue to seek corporate sponsors for their “Can’t Open It? We Can Help!” project. They invite businesses, nonprofits, churches and individuals in the community to donate can openers. A good, durable can opener is about $8-$10, they said. The siblings purchase manual and electric can openers, the latter of which are given to those who have difficulty using the manual can opener due to arthritis or hand disabilities, Maddie said. “I am very excited to help people.”
“Can’t Open It? We Can Help!” was originally started to provide access to food, their mom said. “We are very proud of Connor and Maddie and their successes.”
This project took work, time, presentations, public speaking and marketing their idea to the community, their mom said. “Thank you to everyone who participated, supported and donated to this very worthy cause,” she said.
Since then, they have built upon this program and expanded it to include the Noblesville Schools’ food storage program. The siblings would like to see can openers be given to every student’s family who receives food, said Connor, 14, an eighth-grader at Options Charter School in Noblesville.
Their next project is to provide can openers to all of the children who receive summer lunch programs through White River and other area churches. They also provided can openers for the No Hunger Summer Feeding Program in 2017.

Someday, they hope to provide can openers to the families coming through the area mobile food pantries.
Connor and Maddie were approached to participate in a project with Noblesville High School graduates, Pete Freeman, Class of ‘14, and Zack Baker, Class of ‘16. Freeman -- who is a podcast co-host with Baker, inventor of PassWhiz hall-pass system -- is writing a book about opportunities for students in which they asked to include the siblings’ initiative.
This week, the distribution continued at the food pantry, as the siblings handed out can openers. They will continue to do so throughout the holidays and in the coming weeks.
So far, they have given away 200 of the 279 new can openers that they have collected from donations.
“They want this to be an ongoing project to meet the needs of families in our county and schools,” their mom said. We want awareness to be raised in churches, food pantries, schools and the community. When you are out shopping, pick up a can opener to donate.”
The diligent brother and sister “hope to raise awareness throughout Hamilton County and the world.”
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