Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

OCU contributes to United Methodist missions


The closing weeks of any academic semester can be hectic. On the Oklahoma City University campus, they also were a time for giving during the recent school term. Several United Methodist agencies benefited by the gifts from the university community.

The Athletic Department held its fifth annual canned-food collection for Skyline Urban Ministry. The drive swelled to a record 11,976 items, pushing the five-year total to 44,800 items — more than 32,000 pounds of food.

Every athletic team participated in the drive. Top teams were: Softball (2,368 items), Women’s Wrestling (1,376), Men’s Wrestling (1,241), and Rowing (1,045).

Food gifts were collected at OCU home athletic events and through various campus departments. Several teams came up with creative ways to collect items, including trick-or-treating for canned goods. 

Athletics Director Jim Abbott applauded Skyline’s ministry. "They are positively impacting the lives of those in need on a daily basis, and we are proud to partner with them. Each year I challenge our coaches and student-athletes to make their best efforts to contribute to this endeavor and to contemplate the fact that, for most of us, wondering if we are going to eat today is not a concern."

OCU Athletics also encouraged the 10 schools in the Sooner Athletic Conference to hold a similar drive for a worthy organization in each of their communities. This initiative, called "The SAC Gives Back," will result in more than 50,000 items being donated to serve the needy.

OCU University-Church Relations (UCR) coordinated the Christmas Grace endeavor again this year. Individuals and university departments supplied gifts for 20 families, whose members varied in numbers and ages. Wish lists were available from each family.

Although purchasing all the listed items was not expected, it was evident that givers fulfilled every wish for most families. Their generosity provided microwave ovens, blenders, coffeemakers, coats, bedding, bicycles, MP3 players, movies, CDs, and toys.

Rita Himes, UCR administrative assistant and director of Christmas Grace, recalled a request for a music keyboard. The giver of that gift told Himes, "Wouldn’t it be amazing if this student comes to OCU to study music some day!" 

All the recipient families were adopted in two days, and all the gifts were delivered before the deadline.

The Wesley Center at OCU sponsored two programs. In consultation with Mike Slack, the Wesley students identified gifts requested by 10 foster children who are supported by the Circle of Care. The students set a goal of $700 to purchase those gifts.

Through personal donations and a silent auction, the amount raised exceeded $1,000. Each child received gifts valued at $100.

One child asked for a dress like one worn by the character Elsa in the movie "Frozen." The volunteer shoppers located the last one available in local stores and, happily, it was that child’s size.

The Wesley Center partnered with a new student group, R is for Thursday. This organization helps children in foster care to become self-sufficient.

The Center also sponsored the Alternative Gift Marketplace. Through money donations, shoppers "bought" missional gifts such as rainwater taps in Haiti, for $2 each, and protective gear for disaster clean-up crews, for $25. The Marketplace purchases benefited UMCOR (the United Methodist Committee on Relief) and Project Transformation in Oklahoma.


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Jim Abbott, OCU director of Athletics, receives donations of canned food for Skyline Urban Ministries from Tory Doherty, administrative assistant in Human Relations.


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