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 19 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 17,300 items, Averett University is the Cans Across the Conference Champion for 2017. The Cougars become the first institution to win the competition three consecutive years. 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. New Conference member Berea College collected 9,906 items (the eighth-highest total in a single year by an institution in the history of the competition) to finish second while Mary Baldwin University's 5,835 items rounded out the top-three.
Overall, the USA South institutions collected 52,456 items this fall which is the second-highest total in competition history. Over the 14-year history of the program, USA South Conference institutions have donated 441,722 items to various organizations. Seven institutions, consisting of Agnes Scott College, Averett, Covenant College, Huntingdon College, Mary Baldwin University, N.C. Wesleyan College and Salem College set new single-year school records for items collected during this year's competition. Additionally, those seven institutions as well as Meredith 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.
Berea College: Berea, Kentucky-Area Food Bank.
Brevard College: Brevard, North Carolina Bread of Life Soup Kitchen.
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 Rescue Mission.
Methodist University: Fayetteville, North Carolina Urban Ministry Food Bank.
N.C. Wesleyan College: Rocky Mount, North Carolina Peacemakers Family Center.
Salem College: Shalom Project of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Piedmont College: Cornelia, Georgia Soup Kitchen.
Wesleyan College: Loaves & Fishes Ministry of Macon, Georgia.
William Peace University: Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.