Helping Halls at Tech to help with holiday meals

By Tammy Keith Published November 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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RUSSELLVILLE — Sarah Robinson, 23, doesn’t mind taking a pie in the face for a good cause.

Students in Arkansas Tech University residence halls are planning a flurry of fundraisers for the 2013 Helping Halls program.

The program partners with The Salvation Army in Russellville to buy food for families and individuals during the holidays.

Robinson, a graduate student and the resident assistant for Nutt Hall, is overseeing the program this year.

The organization that sponsors the program is National Residence Hall Honorary, she said.

“I’m the adviser of that organization. It’s a tradition for Arkansas Tech, and we’re just carrying it on,” she said.

Students in 14 residence halls and on-campus apartments enthusiastically participate, Robinson said.

“We tell them, ‘Raise your money,’ and they just go crazy with different events,” she said.

“We kind of do the math based on how many residents you have in your building. Residence Halls with more capacity have a higher [amount] of money they need to raise.”

Nutt Hall just held a murder-mystery dinner, Robinson said, and charged a $3 fee, which went to the Helping Halls fund.

“Others have had a Pie Your RA,” she said. “That’s coming up for my hall. It’s pretty popular.”

She said residents can pay a minimum of $1 for whip cream; $2 to add chocolate syrup; $3 for sprinkles, etc.

After the money is raised, the students take a list provided by The Salvation Army of specific items and brands of food to buy.

They’ll take the money and buy items such as green beans, stuffing, cranberries and corn.

It’s put together in “sets,” Robinson said, and The Salvation Army provides the meat.

“Each set costs about $13,” she said.

Nutt Hall has 340 residents, she said, and a goal of about $650, or 50 sets.The deadline is Dec. 4 for all the halls to have their money raised.

This is the seventh year for the Helping Halls program. Arkansas Tech students have helped provide 1,745 holiday meals through the program during the past six years.

The project usually provides meals for Thanksgiving, Robinson said.

However, Robinson said, this year, The Salvation Army has requested help with Christmas meals.

“Last year, I know [the students] helped us with the Thanksgiving meal that we give to all applicants for our Christmas Angel Tree,” Russellville Salvation Army Corps Officer Warren Jones said.

He said the Helping Halls provided 350 to 400 kits that included the side items.

“ConAgra [Foods] had wanted to do Thanksgiving this year, so they called us in July,” Jones said, laughing.

“The students will be able to still help us with the Christmas meal; it’ll give them a couple more weeks [to raise money],” he said.

“They make a big difference in what we’re able to help people with here; it really does make a big difference.”

Last year, The Salvation Army in Russellville provided about 330 meals for individuals and families at Christmas, and it was the same for Thanksgiving.”

Robinson said the students like to help.

“I think it really hits home for people when they can relate to a good cause,” Robinson said. “They are more likely to give money when it’s close to home, and since it’s The Salvation Army in Russellville and it’s going to people in this area, and it’s the giving season, … people are sort of in that mindset.”

Robinson said she moved to Russellville in July from Oklahoma specifically for the resident assistantship.

“I like the culture of Russellville; it’s very family-oriented,” she said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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