A week-long competition among the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ 14 companies netted more than 15,000 canned food items and a $3,600 cash donation — the largest one-time donation ever received by the Agape Center NRV’s food pantry in Christiansburg, Virginia.

Organized by Cadets for a Cause, a corps organization that supports the wellbeing of the local community through service projects, the competition among the corps’ 14 companies awarded one point for each canned food item and one point for each dollar donated, said cadet Prabhav Bhaumik, a junior in the corps’ Citizen-Leader Track majoring in mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering.

Bhaumik had previously volunteered at the pantry and was one of the three project managers for the effort from Cadets for a Cause. The Agape Center, formerly known as the Giving Tree, is an outreach ministry that partners with several churches in the surrounding community.

“The food drive was a direct means to provide to the community and those with food insecurities within it,” he said. “Organizing, delivering, and distributing food items gave cadets the opportunity to grow, learn and serve, while also continuing to help the corps carry out its core mission of developing global, ethical leaders.”

The cadets’ donation will feed about 2,500 families and is the largest donations received since the pantry opened more than a decade ago, said Dave McEwen, food pantry manager. The cash donation will allow the pantry to buy even more food, he said.

The winning corps company was Band Company, where members of the Highty-Tighties donated 7,000 items themselves, rallied by sophomore cadets Samuel Stashenko, who’s in Air Force ROTC and majoring in general engineering in the College of Engineering, and Grace Shimkus, who’s in Army ROTC and majoring in English in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

“This service to our community was accomplished by motivated cadets living out the Highly-Tighty motto, Facta non Verba — Deeds not Words,” said Band Company Commander Skyler Powell, a senior in Air Force ROTC majoring in philosophy, politics, and economics in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Band Company’s effort won its cadets the privilege of wearing their camouflage uniform for two weeks while other cadets are wearing whatever the corps’ uniform of the day is. The camouflage uniform is the most relaxed and most comfortable uniform issued by the corps.

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