Dominican wins annual conference food drive

Almost 9,000 items donated to Oak Park-River Forest Food Pantry

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By James Kay

Sports Editor

In the 13th year of "Cans Across the Conference," Dominican University's athletic program donated 8,894 items to Beyond Hunger and the Thanksgiving Basket Program. Overall, the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which consists of 12 colleges and universities, raised 36,466 items for local organizations in their respective areas.

"Our conference has been proud of what these institutions have been able to do since the start of this great cause," said Carlos Carrillo, Dominican's coordinator of Student-Athlete Services and girls soccer coach. "To see what our student athletes have done outside of their classes, practices, and games is pretty remarkable."

According to Dominican's website, in addition to canned goods, SAAC collected non-perishable items that contributed to the final items count.

"Cans Across the Conference" started in 2006 and has seen an increase of donations over the years. In its first year, the food drive produced 8,443 items before it hit its highest total in 2017 (55,188 items).

This year's competition took place from Oct. 1 through Dec. 13. According to Dominican's website, the university's donation to the Thanksgiving Basket Program fed 80 families in Austin and Humboldt Park, putting food on the table for Thanksgiving.

This was the first time in nine years that Alverno College wasn't the top contributor for the fundraiser. From 2012 to 2018, Alverno's average donation to the fundraiser was 20,596 items. This year, Dominican edged out Alverno by 31 items (8,863 items total).

Although the food drive was set up to benefit the organizations receiving the donations, it is a friendly competition between the conference foes.

"Oh [beating Alverno] felt great," said Carrillo. "I didn't think anyone could beat them. They were doing so much great work and I even reached out at one point to see what else they were doing. I can't wait for the trophy to arrive."

Concordia University Chicago was also involved in the fundraiser and donated 1,326 items to Beyond Hunger as well.

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