Two local businesses are substituting cash for canned goods in support of area food pantries.

Tricia O’Connor, manager of the Kitchen Store along with her mother Jeanne Smyers, who owns the store, created a way to clear winter inventory while also supporting their community with something they call Kitchen Store Bucks.

Each canned good brought to the store this weekend equals $1 toward select Christmas and Every Day clearance merchandise marked at 50 percent off.

"The idea is to turn clearance into something that would be of value to the consumer and local organizations that support the community," O’Connor said.

There’s no limit to the amount of cans that can be brought to the store, but cans must be at least 10 ounces to be counted for Kitchen Store Bucks, and expired cans will not be accepted.

Kitchen Store Bucks will be accepted today and Saturday.

The sisters of Strain Photography are also raising canned goods for local nonprofits with a contest that counts cans as votes.

Photographer Brandy Strain-Dayer said this time of the year is slow for photographers, so she and sister Jackie Strain-Mahar came up with the idea to hold a most popular photo competition last year where votes were cast by donating a can of food.

Participants enter the contest by donating 100 10-ounce cans to the cause. The donation gets them a free portrait session and an 11 by 14 photo of their choice. The sisters then select one of the photos for the contest.

Strain-Dayer said there are only four slots left, and anyone is eligible — kids, couples, pets, families, babies, teens. The portrait sessions will take place Feb. 3 through Feb. 7.

The portrait with the most donated cans will receive a photography prize package worth more than $5,000, including free regular studio session fees for life.

Portraits can be viewed on the Strain Photography Facebook page Feb. 10 through Feb. 14. Canned goods can be dropped off at the Strain studio at 1025 Parkway Ave.

Last year the contest was so popular, Strain-Dayer said, Harp’s Foods ran out of cans because people were buying whole flats at a time.

Strain Photography collected 14,000 cans last year and is hoping to top that number this year. This year’s winner will be announced Feb. 17 at 10 a.m. at

Canned goods from both businesses will be donated to Bethlehem House, the Conway area schools backpack program, Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas, HAVEN House and Soul Food Cafe Mission.

For those looking for a deal, this week’s ads say Price Cutter has Best Choice canned vegetables on sale for 58 cents, Wal-Mart Super Center has Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes and Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies on sale for 98 cents and Harp’s Foods has VanCamp’s Pork and Beans two for 88 cents.

(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at