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Canning Hope: A Man’s Worldwide Mission to End Thirst

Sussex grandfather's passion rewarded with major grant from Ball Corporation.

By Andy Ambrosius | Email the author | November 19, 2011

You can also read the article in its entirety here: http://sussex.patch.com/articles/canning-hope-a-man-s-worldwide-mission-to-end-thirst


Although he’s a 63-year-old grandfather with a full-time job, Greg Stromberg discovered a problem that just couldn’t be ignored.

It all started after the Sussex resident of 25 years attended a national conference in Chicago, along with every major can manufacturer in the world. A man took to the stage and asked, “What are you doing to help people in developing countries?”

“The serious part is there are children dying every 15 seconds,” Stromberg said. “Having nine grandchildren — and I get pretty choked up about this – to think there are children dying right now as I’m drinking my coffee. That’s a problem.”

That moment in Chicago was when Stromberg decided something needed to be done. As a professional in the canning industry, he developed the nonprofit organization CannedWater4Kids (CW4K), that cans, rather than bottles, water to raise money for research in developing nations while remaining bottle-free.

The organization not only helps bring water to those in need, it also utilizes the most recycled beverage container in the world, keeping “green” a top priority.

And although only four years old, the nonprofit was just awarded the very prestigious Can Ambassador Award by Ball Corporation, one of the largest canning companies in the world. CW4K received an undisclosed amount of money along with a donation of more than 110,000 more cans for its project.

The award comes after Stromberg’s extreme dedication to the charity. While working full time for his current job, he also works full time for CW4K.

“We’re a nonprofit, so nobody is paid in this organization,” said Stromberg. “I work for free, my board works for free and we have a lot of volunteers. I’ve got a Generation Z mind in a Generation X body with no plans of quitting anytime soon.”
Small but Growing

CannedWater4Kids started in 2008, but is already deeply rooted in the United States and beyond. The nonprofit sells canned water to places like schools looking to eliminate sugary sodas from vending machines and organizations that feed the hungry.

Almost all of the proceeds then go toward building water purification solutions in places like Guatemala, Tanzania and Zambia, and it even helps to support education programs at local universities. For the third year in a row, Stromberg has partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Engineers Without Borders program by writing a hefty check and collaborating with the students.

“Over 95 cents of every dollar we get for selling this canned water goes towards projects,” said Stromberg. “We work with the UW-Milwaukee Engineers Without Borders and with different missionaries who each build wells and storage tanks. So we’re still small, but we’re growing.”

Stromberg said he estimates CW4K has raised over $100,000 so far, not including the money awarded from Bell Corporation. Considering his clean water plans are far beyond simply selling canned water, the more money Stromberg’s nonprofit can collect, the more its CEO can help.

“With the world going digital, one major thing we can do is make this an open sourced learning experience for all the organizations looking to do something about cleaner drinking water,” Stromberg explained. “We can film the work UWM is doing in Guatemala, and then share that with everyone to solve our water problems.”

With big dreams for a nonprofit that provides a big service, Stromberg is ready to take the next step to end thirst.