(FAYETTEVILLE, NC) – The holidays are a time to give thanks and appreciate the blessings in one's life. The members of the USA South Athletic Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) realized that not everyone is as fortunate as they are and wanted to do something to help make it a happier holiday in their communities, thus Cans Across the Conference was initiated in 2004.
SAAC organized the canned food drive as a community service competition amongst the 16 institutions in the USA South. Each campus SAAC collected cans and other non-perishable items at their school to benefit a local charity. It was up to each institution to decide how they wanted to collect and to which group the donation would go. The institution with the most items collected would be crowned the Cans Across the Conference Champion.
With a grand total of 14,142 items, Averett University is the Cans Across the Conference Champion for 2016. This is the second consecutive time the Cougars have won the competition. Averett's collection is the most in school history and the third-most garnered in a single year by an institution in the history of the competition. Ferrum College collected a school-record 13,336 items (the fourth-highest total in a single year by an institution in the history of the competition) to finish second while League newcomer Wesleyan College's 5,654 items rounded out the top-three.
Overall, the USA South institutions collected 50,172 items this fall which is the third-highest total in competition history. Over the 13-year history of the program, USA South Conference institutions have donated 389,266 items to various organizations. Five institutions, consisting of Averett, Ferrum, LaGrange College, Mary Baldwin University and Maryville College set new single-year school records for items collected during this year's competition. Additionally, those five institutions as well as Meredith College, N.C. Wesleyan College, Piedmont College and William Peace University improved on their collection amounts from a year ago.
Below is a list of the local organizations where the USA South institutions donated their collections:
Agnes Scott College: Decatur, Georgia Emergency Assistance Ministry.
Averett University: God's Storehouse Food Bank of Danville, Virginia.
Covenant College: Chattanooga, Tennessee-Area Food Bank.
Ferrum College: St. James Methodist Church of Ferrum, Virginia.
Greensboro College: Urban Ministry of Greensboro, North Carolina.
Huntingdon College: Montgomery, Alabama-Area Food Bank.
LaGrange College: Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in LaGrange, Georgia.
Mary Baldwin University: Blue Ridge, Virginia-Area Food Bank.
Maryville College: Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.
Meredith College: Raleigh, North Carolina-Area Salvation Army.
Methodist University: Fayetteville, North Carolina Urban Ministry Food Bank.
N.C. Wesleyan College: Rocky Mount, North Carolina Peacemakers Family Center.
Salem College: Sunnyside Ministry of Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Piedmont College: Cornelia, Georgia Soup Kitchen.
Wesleyan College: Mentor's Project of Bibb County, Georgia.
William Peace University: Holy Trinity Anglican Church of Raleigh, North Carolina.