Gather canned food and get it to the Washburn Student Government Association office as though hungry children depend on it.
Can Emporia, which started last week but got its formal kickoff today in the Memorial Union, is about more than a century old rivalry. It’s about meeting the real needs of children and families in both Topeka and Emporia.
Berry Feaker, executive director of the Topeka Rescue Mission and a Washburn graduate, told a small group gathered Wednesday that support from the community through food drives like this one meet a growing and serious need.
“We distributed more food baskets last year than in the previous four years combined,” Feaker said. This year, the mission is outpacing even that number.
The seventh annual competition between the student governments of Washburn and Emporia State University has brought in hundreds of thousands of items for the two communities.
WSGA President Shelbie Konkel said she hoped this year’s drive would be fruitful because “we are working together with a passion similar to our namesake’s.”
Washburn President Jerry Farley said the rivalry between Washburn and Emporia State is fun and an important part of the atmosphere for both campuses. The Can Emporia (and Can The Ichabod) drive is a chance to use the rivalry to help both communities.
“Enjoy yourself,” he said. “Be a part of this. We’ll give it to a good cause and we’ll have fun doing it.”
The school that collects the most nonperishable food items by Nov. 8 will win bragging rights. So far, both schools have won the competition three times. The student body president of the second-place school will receive a pie in the face during halftime of the Emporia vs. Washburn football game. That game will be played Nov. 16 in Emporia.
WSGA is in the process of organizing buses to take students to the game. Check out mywsga.com and Facebook.com/CanEmporia for more information in the coming weeks. A new option this year is donating online. Visit mywsga.com/donate to give by credit or debit card. And join the converstaion on Twitter with #CanEmporia. Damian Barron, community liaison for WSGA, said donation bags also will be distributed to neighborhoods near campus in the coming weeks.
“You’re having a good time doing this. I really hope you do Can Emporia. But it’s important more than that to support children and families in our community,” Feaker said. “This is passion that passion that passes along not only food, but hope to our community.”
According to the rules of Can Emporia,
$1 = 3 cans
4 Ramen noodles = 1 can
Jarred items (12oz or more) = 3 cans
Box of cereal (12oz or more) = 3 cans
Box of macaroni and cheese = 1 can