The idea started as a way to engage people by reaching out through acts of kindness in a connection with the holiday season.
The congregation at Ohev Sholom Synagogue, 1501 Cherry St., will collect canned goods until Dec. 9 to donate and distribute to charity. The holiday season kicker is that the canned goods will be built into a Menorah that will be lit that day in celebration of Hanukkah, said Rabbi Shaul A. Rappeport.
Rappeport plans to construct the Menorah with the help of some of the children from the congregation.
Rabbi Shaul A. Rappeport, of Ohev Sholom Synagogue, 1501 Cherry St., empties bags of canned goods.
"I'm hoping for not too many engineering difficulties," Rappeport said, citing that it could tip over while lit. He hopes that by using cans of the same size, the problem can be avoided.
After the candles in the Menorah are lit, everything will be dismantled to share with those in need.
"One of the celebrations of the holiday of Hanukkah is charity," Rappeport said.
An ancient custom of the holiday is to give children gifts, including money. The money, known as gelt, is to be divided between a child's desire, such as a toy or candy, and a charity.
"They're educated at a young age that it is OK to buy candy or a toy, (but also) to give part to a charity," Rappeport said.
Following that idea of charitable giving, he wants to take a team to help others during the holiday season with the canned goods.
"You have to think of things you haven't done before," Rappeport said. "I draw inspiration from other colleagues and I heard of such a concept that would really work here in Williamsport."
The drive started slowly a few weeks ago, but is growing. Any canned or dried goods can be dropped in the food drop boxes at the synagogue next to each of the doors on Cherry Street.
The Menorah lighting at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 9 is open to the public.
Rappeport hopes for at least hundreds of cans.
"If it was a thousand, it'd be great, but at least something in the hundreds," he said. Since the Menorah is made of eight branches, there have to be enough cans to construct them. "I want to build something impressive. It allows us to have a greater impact for more people and help more people.
"We hope this will be a nice opportunity to bring different people in our community together for the greater good," Rappeport said.