This program is a fun twist on a very important time at many colleges, March Madness! Also, because competition is usually the best way to get residents excited about a program, I incorporated that into this community service event. Each floor (or RA) is a “team” in the bracket and they are matched up against other floors. After the set amount of time (in our building a week worked best but you can tailor it to your particular needs) I collected the non-perishable food items from each floor and counted them up. The winning floor moved on in the bracket to face the next floor. This continued until only two floors were left and the winning floor received a pizza party. Our building has 4 female and 4 male floors and the male floors usually do not participate as much in programming but actually won this competition in its first year.
I placed large poster-sized brackets on each floor and updated them as the competition progressed. After each collection I would put “congratulations” flyers or “sorry” flyers in each box to inform the residents of the results. On the “congratulations” flyers I would also inform the residents of their next opponent and the “twist” of the next week (see below). I also placed brackets in the main lobby of our building. The word spread quickly and the R.A.’s also informed and motivated their floors to compete.
Our “tournament” was 3 weeks in length and during the last two weeks there was a “twist”. I researched the needs of our local food pantry and found that protein was greatly needed and beneficial for its patrons. So I decided that the second week, any form of beans/protein would count as 2 food items. This motivated residents to donate beans, tuna, and other items. The third week, the final week in which 2 floors were competing, the “twist” was that peanut butter counted as 3 food items. The food pantry was very excited about the donation because of these essential items that are so greatly needed. Research your local pantry to see what they are in the greatest need of and use that as a “twist” in the competition. Even though you may have tons of beans and peanut butter floating around your room for a while, it’s worth it!
This competition can get fierce with floors spying each other and strategizing. If it becomes a problem you can count each night. I, however, found that letting them play it out actually motivated them more and added something to the competition. Also, stealing can become a problem (usually on a male floor) where they see free food and partake of it. If this occurs, placing the collection box inside the R.A.’s room may be best. Other than these tiny hitches, the program went amazingly!
Due the size of this program (building-wide) we used a pizza party as an incentive. This worked well, especially to motivate male floors to join in on the competition.
Submitted by Danielle Reed, Resident Assistant, Missouri State University