Bears for Christ, UCA’s Church of Christ Student Union, spread some early holiday cheer as they collected nonperishable food items throughout October.
The student union collected cans during a month-long “Can-O-Rama” event. Bears for Christ members invited the community to join in by donating items to the organization’s campus house and at Pitza 42.
Approximately 2,225 cans were collected and sent to the Bethlehem House, a Christian transitional shelter in Conway that assists homeless individuals and families.
Bethlehem House’s Adopt-A-Meal program serves approximately 20,000 meals each year through donations. The shelter serves food daily to 20-30 people.
The Bears for Christ hosted a Coffeehouse Talent Show Nov. 16 to share final results of the food drive and for attendees to perform talents.
Performances from approximately six different groups included singing, dancing, dramatic poetry reading and magic.
Casey Carroll, UCA graduate and Bears for Christ committee member, helped lead the can drive effort.
“The talent night was just for fun and was filled with laughs,” he said.
Carroll said cans received throughout “Can-O-Rama” were dropped off at the Bethlehem House Nov. 17.
“When we arrived, the Bethlehem House had to open up another storage room because their pantry was full, which was a great problem to have,” Carroll said.
Carroll has been part of Bears for Christ for three years and served as an intern last year.
“The Bible calls us to be servants and this is just one way we can serve our community,” he said.
Bears for Christ conducted a can drive two years ago on Oct. 10, 2010 and had a coat drive on Nov. 11, 2011.
Campus Minister Nick Starnes said the Bears for Christ achieved their goal of 1,500 food items this year.
“This food drive went far beyond in number of cans and enthusiasm,” he said.
Starnes said the coffeehouse talent show was also intended to share the need for community support to feed and provide services to the homeless in Faulkner County.
After the “Can-O-Rama” food drive concluded, he encouraged people to donate nonperishable food items directly to the Bethlehem House.
“They seem to be the most active in providing services in the county,” Starnes said.
Senior Kendyl Whitehead said the Bethlehem House provides more services than she previously thought.
“There is a surprising number of people who are without food,” she said.
Whitehead said she performed a dance with a friend, senior Kaylee Hartman, at the talent show. They danced to a mix of “We Won’t Give Up” by The Afters and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”
“It was pretty funny because I don’t normally dance,” she said.
Whitehead said it was neat to see what talents other people brought to the talent show and to help the Bethlehem House.
“I think we were really surprised by how much we were able to raise,” she said. “We will be able to help a lot of people in Conway.”
Carroll said God answered the prayers of Bears for Christ this year with the success of the food drive.
“To see everyone come together for a common cause brought joy not only to me but also to the workers at the Bethlehem House and everyone who was involved,” he said.
The Bears for Christ will host a Christmas party for Southern Christian Home in Morrilton, a home to help forgotten or abused children, Dec. 4.