Thanksgiving 2010 showcases compassion of University community
Posted: 11/11/2010
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November is truly a month of "Thanksgiving" at UT Pan American, with faculty, staff and students from throughout the campus volunteering their time to benefit the broader community.

Activities on the calendar this month include:

- Student Leadership Program to volunteer at Food Bank RGV

Nov. 13, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Fifty-eight students from the Student Leadership Program (SLP) at UTPA will volunteer their time to sort food at the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley.

Dolores Villarreal, assistant director of Student Life and Transition Services, said each semester SLP students participate in a service project in the community and this month they chose to help the Food Bank.

"They said they needed a lot of help and we wanted to help," Villarreal said.

To learn more about SLP and their volunteer efforts, call (956) 665-2659.

- BRIDGE students to serve it up at Feast of Sharing

Nov. 14, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at McAllen Convention Center

Even the youngest Broncs at UTPA are getting into the spirit of Thanksgiving on campus. The UTPA Child Development Center is hosting its Third Annual Canned Food Drive this month, which runs through Nov. 19. Pictured left to right are Nathan Palacios, Emma Martinez, and Dominic Alaniz, infants from the CDC, showing some of the canned food items collected by the children at the center.
Serving up turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie to thousands at the 21st annual H-E-B Feast of Sharing will be 23 University Scholars students from UTPA's BRIDGE Program. BRIDGE, also known as Bronc Retention Initiatives Dedicated to Growth and Excellence, helps students at UTPA make a smoother, more successful transition into university life. To learn more about BRIDGE and their volunteer efforts, call (956) 665-7080.

- Child Development Center Third Annual Canned Food Drive

Runs through Nov. 19

The UTPA Child Development Center (CDC) is coordinating its Third Annual Canned Food Drive with the assistance of the youngest Broncs on campus. The food drive, which runs through Nov. 19, has become a favorite of the center every year as it teaches the children the meaning of giving back to the community, said Elda Perez, CDC director.

"If we teach them to be loving and caring individuals they will grow up to be compassionate citizens," Perez said.

In addition, the CDC is collecting pennies to donate to the Children's Advocacy Center of Hidalgo County Estrella's House, which provides a safe haven for children who are victims of physical or sexual abuse.

"Our wish is for the Advocacy Center to use the funds to purchase blankets. A few of our children here at the CDC carry around a security blanket, while others carry with them a small pillow or a special toy. These items make our children feel secure, while away from home. With that in mind, we want other children who may have gone through a dramatic incident to have their own security blanket. We want all children to feel safe," Perez said.

If you would like to donate canned food items or pennies to the CDC for their drives, stop by their facility located on Van Week Street.

- United Through Volleyball Tournament to benefit Mujeres Unidas

Nov. 20, 7:45 a.m.-4 p.m. at Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex

Senior Sally Gomez, an English major with a leadership minor, will be hosting a volleyball tournament to benefit the nonprofit organization Mujeres Unidas.

Gomez combined something she loves - volleyball - with a good cause as part of the Student Leadership Program requirement, which requires seniors to implement a service project before graduation. She said the goal of the tournament is to spread awareness and unity for struggling families trying to survive domestic violence or sexual assault.

"Sometimes in life we are given tribulations, and I want the community to empathize and become aware of how much in need these families are for the simple items we may take for granted. Mujeres Unidas isn't only for women but families that are in need of shelter, services or programs," Gomez said.

Through the tournament, Gomez hopes to collect between 100-200 items, ranging from hygiene products to toys for children. For more information or to donate, call Gomez at (956) 460-3263.

- Women's Basketball Thanksgiving Can Food Drive

Runs through Nov. 23

The UTPA Women's Basketball team, in conjunction with Lifehouse Campus Club and Baptist Temple College & Young Adults, will be collecting canned food or non-perishable items for Edinburg families and members of the UTPA community during this time of giving.

Drop boxes for contributions will be located at the Women's Basketball Office, Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex, and the UTPA Visitors Center.

In addition, if you drop off items at the Athletics Box Office, you can receive one free ticket to the Nov. 22 home game against Texas A&M-Kingsville at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Coach G Maeweather at (956) 665-2973 or Jenny Ingram of Lifehouse at (956) 330-7711.

- Broncs support the pooches with season ticket sales

UTPA Head Men's Basketball Coach Ryan Marks has partnered with Recycled Rovers and Friends of Donna, Texas for a season ticket sales campaign.

For each new Broncs Basketball season ticket purchase, Marks will make a $25 donation to Recycled Rovers and Friends. He will donate a maximum of $2,500 (up to 100 new season ticket accounts) that will benefit the organization.

Recycled Rovers & Friends is a no-kill, nonprofit rescue shelter. For more information about the campaign, call (956) 665-2221.

Pictured are participants at the Pre-Dental Society 5K walk/run on Nov. 6. The race, which began at the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex, benefited the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley.
- Pre-Dental Society 5K walk/run benefits Food Bank RGV

On Nov. 6, three seniors organized a 5K walk/run to support the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley. The race registration fee was $5 or five canned goods.

The race, which started at the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex, was a success according to Victoria Gomez, one of the organizers. Gomez said she and Nathaniel De la Cruz and Karla Cantu wanted to put a twist on the food drive concept so they came up with the race.

"We had a great turnout. People showed up with more than five cans to donate. Others donated food and additionally added a monetary donation. It was great seeing so many people show up for the race. The Food Bank RGV picked up all food and monetary donations the day of the race and will report what we collected in the upcoming week," Gomez said.

Gomez said that for every $5 donated during the race 25 people will be fed through the Food Bank.

"It is important to us to support the cause because thousands of children go hungry every night, and that's just in the Valley, so if we spread awareness then people will want to help," Gomez said.


If you are looking to make a difference throughout the year, UTPA has numerous volunteer opportunities available for students, faculty and staff, including the Community Service Connection, which provides service and volunteerism opportunities for all in the UTPA community.

"We have a lot of volunteer opportunities available for students throughout the year. Some of these opportunities range from on-campus events to working with local nonprofits in the area such as the American Red Cross," said Erica Lopez, coordinator for the Community Service Connection in UTPA's Office of Student Life and Transition Services.

According to Lopez, nonprofits are always looking to the University for volunteers, including the American Legion, Dustin Sekula Memorial Library in Edinburg, Walgreens, McAllen Police Department, Planned Parenthood, and many more. Lopez said some of these opportunities are ongoing and some for specific events.

If you are looking to volunteer in the new year, mark your calendars for a major campuswide service event coming Jan. 17, 2011, which will be UTPA's first ever Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Lopez said.

Once you have accumulated numerous service hours, what do you do? Lopez said UTPA offers volunteers the chance to record their volunteer time through the UT Civic & Service Participation Program, which is part of The University of Texas System. There, volunteers can record their time and be recognized for all their volunteer service work.For more information or to record your hours, visit

To learn about the different volunteer and service opportunities available at UTPA, visit