Enactus collects cans for a cause

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Enactus, a community-service based student organization at USM, will begin collecting cans for their annual Let’s Can Hunger campaign.

The campaign is sponsored nationally by Campbell’s Soup and mobilizes Enactus teams all over the U.S. to end hunger in their communities by organizing and executing food drives.

According to the Let’s Can Hunger website, teams sign a pledge to collect 5,000 pounds of canned goods by Feb. 27, 2014. Teams then submit a report on the impact the campaign made in their community.

Those who complete the pledge are invited to attend an exclusive reception with Campbell’s executives and employees at the 2014 Enactus United States National Exposition in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Every March or April, we take all the projects we’ve done and take our version of it and take it to the competition where there’s university teams,” said Deonica Davis, programming chair for Enactus.

“They all come together and they’re showing off their projects and showing off their impact. We present all our projects to business owners and CEOs,” Davis said.

Enactus USM will collect cans in various ways this year. Members will participate in a ‘Trick or Treat for Cans’ event Halloween night at University Edge apartments. They will dress in costume and go door-to-door collecting cans from residents.

A ‘Car Wash for Cans’ event will take place Nov. 9 in the parking lot of the USM Federal Credit Union. There will also be a ‘Dorm Storm’ event beginning Nov. 16 where boxes will be placed on different floors in the residence halls for students to contribute. It will run for about three weeks.

Enactus members will collect cans outside Sunflower Food Store the same day.

Students, faculty, staff and community members are encouraged to donate non-perishable goods that haven’t reached their expiration date.

“It also helps for it to have a little pop tab, because some of the homeless people who come to Hope House to get food don’t stay there,” Davis said.

Enactus is also partnering with faculty members in an attempt to reach their goal.

“We’re doing student credit,” said Eddie Drane, Enactus vice president. “It’s where teachers assign extra credit to students who bring in a certain amount of cans. The teacher is the one who assigns the amount of cans a student gets so it varies each class that you’re in.”

The cans will be donated to local ministry and homeless outreach center Hope House and several other food pantries in Hattiesburg.

“…We really wanted to help somewhere that was really embedded here,” Davis said.

“There will be times where they’ve been like ‘woo, this is a lot of cans’ so we’ll spread it to the Salvation Army, we’ll spread it to Edwards Street Fellowship, but Hope House is our main buddy,” she said.

Chris Wilkes, president of Hope House, said he’s very grateful for Enactus’ contributions over the years.

“They are, by far, one of the biggest contributors to the homeless outreach we run,” Wilkes said. “In the winter time, we’ve had several times when our pantry has gotten very low and it was Enactus that restocked that pantry.”
“Also, they have helped more than one person establish employment and get set up with a job,” he added.

Students with any major are welcome to get involved with Enactus. They also welcome partnerships with other student organizations and community businesses.

“Many students are unaware of the needs of individuals outside of the university campus,” said Jennifer Sequeira, associate professor of management and Enactus advisor.

“Enactus teams expose students to what is taking place in their communities and when students become aware they want to make a difference,” Sequeira said.

“Once you get involved with the community projects, you keep going because with Enactus, it’s not that we do one or two things and leave it alone,” said Kimberly Loving, Enactus president. “It’s ongoing and it’s impacting people’s lives and you stay in these people’s lives.”

Enactus holds weekly meetings every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Thad Cochran Center Room 227. For more information, visit their Facebook page, EnactusSouthernMiss.