By Kelsi Peace, Managing Editor
Popular Abilene eatery Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q will welcome freshmen and transfer students to Abilene with about 600 sandwiches Thursday.
Harold’s isn’t the only local restaurant bringing food to the Students’ Association premier event, Welcome to Abilene. Ann Thai Kitchen, Bogie’s Deli, Joe Allen’s Pit Bar-B-Q, Los Arcos, Spano’s and Sharky’s Burrito Company will also offer free buffet-style food, along with dessert and coffee shops Tuscany’s, Monk’s and Mezamiz Deux Coffee House.
“We try to keep it local,” said SA Executive President Matt Worthington. “It’s kind of about instilling pride in people.”
Worthington, senior English major from San Antonio, and other members of the executive Cabinet, partnered with sponsors like the Office of the Executive Vice President, the Alumni Association, Senior Legacy, Dining Services and the First-Year Program to create an event that would offer new students a chance to meet their SA representatives and to get to know Abilene.
Welcome to Abilene is free to all freshmen and transfer students and will be located in the Teague Special Events Center from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s our gift to the freshmen and transfer students,” Worthington said.
As part of his campaign last spring, Worthington promised monthly forums for students to voice their opinions. Welcome to Abilene will present new students with the first opportunity to talk to SA representatives, and Worthington said the first SA meeting will allow students to offer input to the head architect of the Fitness and Recreation Center project. The meeting will be Sept. 19 at 5 p.m. in Hart Auditorium.
Also at the event, Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, will address attendees.
Students can peruse stands representing area businesses and organizations, including Abilene Philharmonic, Frontier Texas!, a Silence Production, ACU Medical Clinic, Perry Automotive Brake and Muffler, Snappy Lube and Forever Fit. Door prizes include a $300 to $400 car service package, possibly a Best Buy TV and a few months’ membership to Hendrick Health Club from Mayor Archibald. SA and campus sponsors funded the event.
SA will also unveil their Fair Trade clothing line, Heartbeat, and area churches will set up information booths.
Mark Lewis, director of spiritual life and student ministries, has worked with churches at Meet the Churches, a display of local churches set up in the McGlothlin Campus Center every first Wednesday of the semester, for 10 years. This year, he met with preachers and discussed more effective ways area churches could connect with students. When Worthington mentioned Welcome to Abilene, Lewis asked to join forces.
“It’s brilliant,” Lewis said. “We’ve made the assumption that students just figure out where stuff is.”
Twenty-two churches have confirmed for the event, and Lewis said the festive environment should provide a less awkward atmosphere for students to look for a church home.
At the event, churches will distribute fliers and giveaways to offer freshmen a look at their church. Members will be available to answer questions and offer ways to get involved.