The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) at the 10 Capital Athletic Conference member schools not only combined to break the conference record for food collection for the needed – they combined to CRUSH the record.
For the first time in the four-year history of the "CAC Challenge", 100 percent of the membership participated in the program to collect food and donate it to a local food bank or charity in time for the holiday season.
The total amount collected this year by the CAC SAAC membership - more than 18,300 pounds – is more than the total collected in the first three years COMBINED (approx. 14,500 pounds from 2010-12) and is three times as much as the previous one-year record of 6,154 pounds in 2012.
The CAC Challenge concept was initiated by the University of Mary Washington SAAC leadership in a challenge to the other conference members at the organization’s Fall 2010 meeting. Each participating school can pick any 10-day period between Oct. 1 and Thanksgiving Day to collect food for a local charity.
Mary Washington boasts a well-established all-campus competition for more than a decade, both among its athletic teams and the rest of the campus. The entire university participates annually, creating competitions between residence halls, clubs, the athletic department and others. Prior to joining forces for the campus-wide competition, the athletic teams compete internally for top honors within the department, which earns the winning team a pizza party.
The UMW SAAC recommended an extension of the program to the entire CAC. After discussion, the CAC SAAC members agreed to allow each school to pick its own 10-day collection period to work in conjunction with other events sponsored by the school or the SAAC.
CAC newcomer Christopher Newport finished on top of the 2013 CAC Challenge, collecting 7,440 pounds of food for the Virginia-Peninsula Food Bank. During CNU’s SAAC collection period, the University’s student body also collaborated with an all-campus food drive to collect another 10,000 pounds of food – meaning the entire CNU community supported the Newport News, Va., area with more than 17,000 pounds of donations.
After winning the competition in each of the first three years, Mary Washington finished a strong second this year, collecting a school-record 3,592.5 pounds of food for the Fredericksburg (Va.) Area Food Bank. Eighteen varsity teams participated in the on-campus challenge, with the softball team dethroning last year’s champion baseball as the leader of the Eagles. The softball team collected 741 pounds of food, followed by baseball (403.5 lbs.), field hockey (115.5 lbs.), cross country (115 lbs.) and women’s soccer (107.5 lbs.).
Several other schools had record-breaking performances during the 2013 collection.
In its first year as a participant in the CAC Challenge, Salisbury’s SAAC and athletic department became the third group to collect a "ton" of food in a single year by collecting 2,143 pounds of food and donations for the Maryland Food Bank and the Joseph House, located in Salisbury, Md.
Frostburg State just missed the "ton" plateau, but gathered 1,884.8 pounds of food and donations for the Western Maryland Food Bank in Cumberland, Md. - a substantial increase over the previous two years. FSU’s SAAC collected 744 pounds of food in 2012 and 577 pounds in 2011.
It was the first year FSU teams competed against each other, similar to Mary Washington’s program, and the Bobcats’ swim teams, led by coach and new SAAC advisor Justin Anderson, combined to collect 532 lbs. of food, followed by volleyball (253 lbs.), cross country/track (209 lbs.), field hockey (179 lbs.) and women’s lacrosse (105 lbs.). Anderson is a former All-CAC swimmer at Mary Washington and participated in the Eagles’ challenge during his undergraduate career.
The Bobcats’ SAAC also donated 25 Thanksgiving baskets that included a turkey and many "traditional" food items such as beans, corn, potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie mix, etc., to the Braddock House in Frostburg, Md.
York (Pa.) also increased its previous best collection effort by donating 827 pounds of food to a local shelter through the YCP nursing department. That total tops the 743 pounds of food collected in 2012, the Spartans’ first year in the CAC Challenge. Prior to 2012, YCP’s SAAC coordinated an award-winning "Christmas in the Community" celebration, which was nationally recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Athletics Directors (NACDA).
Participating in the CAC Challenge for the second time, Marymount increased its total donation from 270 pounds in 2010 to 814 pounds of food and donations in 2014 for the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C.
Additionally, the MU SAAC organized an event in which student-athletes prepared, packaged and delivered 480 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to individuals and families without homes in the nation’s capital. St. Paul’s Parish accepted 200 sandwiches for an event called "Grate Patrol," which distributes brown-bag meals to individuals living on the streets of Washington, D.C. Sandwiches were also delivered to Franklin Park in Washington, D.C., where there are often homeless individuals in or near the park on Saturday mornings. The remaining sandwiches went to Federal City Community for Creative Non-Violence Shelter, the largest shelter in D.C.
St. Mary’s (Md.) reached the "ton" plateau in its three years participating in the CAC Challenge by collecting 558 pounds of food this year for the Food Pantry of St. Cecilia’s Church in Saint Mary’s City, Md. Combined with the 2011 (630 lbs.) and 2012 (836 lbs.) totals, the Seahawks have now raised just over a ton of food (2,024 lbs.) for local organizations.
Wesley, in its third year in the CAC Challenge, collected 639 pounds of donations for the Delaware Food Bank. The Wolverines, who finished second in the CAC Challenge in their two previous years (2010 and 2012), joined SMC in eclipsing the "ton" plateau, collecting 2,497 pounds of food as part of the conference program.
Penn State Harrisburg and Southern Virginia, two institutions that joined the CAC along with Christopher Newport this year, participated in the CAC Challenge for the first time. Southern Virginia SAAC collected and donated 400 pounds of food to the Rockbridge (Va.) County Food Bank. Penn State Harrisburg participated in the program, but the amount of food donated this week to a Lancaster County charity was unavailable.
In total, the 10 CAC member institutions combined to collect and distribute more than 14 tons of food in time for the holiday season.