The annual AggiesCAN food drive hosted by the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC, is celebrating its 20th anniversary of giving back to the local community.
From Nov. 1 to Nov. 30, SAAC will be collecting canned goods and monetary donations with eight organizations in hopes to provide food and resources for families in need. Online donations can be given through bvfb.org/AggiesCAN or by texting “AGGIESCAN” to 313131.
According to 12thman.com, AggiesCAN started back in 2000 and has grown into a tradition that benefits the community each year.
“What started out as an idea to have a collection at one football game has grown into the largest student-athlete volunteer-run canned food drive in the nation,” the website reads. “The collections will help give back and impact the Brazos Valley.”
Cross country senior and SAAC president Rachel Bernardo said last year was the organization's biggest year, collecting over 50,000 meals. She said she is interested in how much they will collect this year due to COVID-19 and modifying the event to accommodate during these times.
“Typically, a big way we collect donations is through our on-campus competitions, which is through different student organizations participating, but we wanted to eliminate all face-to-face, in-person collections because of COVID-19 and not wanting to put people in positions where they would feel nervous,” Bernardo said.
While the drive usually lasts for a week, Bernardo said this year they decided to have the event run from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30 in order to maximize donations.
“As of last Tuesday, [Nov.] 12, we have raised almost 10,000 meals already, so I was very happy to hear that,” Bernardo said. “I’m excited to see what the report will look like as the weeks continue.”
Since AggiesCAN has become a campus tradition, Bernardo said she encourages everyone to donate, especially this year since COVID-19 has caused local communities to face financial difficulties.
“COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, but I think that if you're able, that one dollar can provide five meals,” Bernardo said. “You could just think about that it’s enough to feed one family for a night. While COVID-19 is hard on all of us, it's important to remember there are people out there who definitely have it worse and help just even in the smallest way you can. For people who don’t have the means to donate, like broke college kids, maybe just spreading the message to someone who can donate is a great way to spread the message and keep the tradition alive.”
Senior diver Charlye Campbell said once she became a member of SAAC and started participating in AggiesCAN, she realized the drive is a powerful way to give back to the community.
“For me, AggiesCAN is just a great way for our athletes to give back to our community, and you can see the physical donations and cans being brought and the impact they make, and that’s a great way for us to be able to make our mark here in the area,” Campbell said.
Campbell said A&M’s SAAC hosts the largest student-run athlete food donation in the country, everyone should donate in any way they can.
“Especially with COVID-19, people really need this extra help, so for us to be able to provide these extra meals even as much as we did last year would be a godsend,” Campbell said. “These people need these things, and it’s [a] really tough time for everyone right now because of COVID-19, and so if you have extra cans in your pantry, that is such an easy way to give back to the community.”