Hunger gets canned by Helping Hands
Feb18

Hunger gets canned by Helping Hands

Helping Hands’ Warehouse added 40,000 pounds of food to its shelves after Canstruction 2015.   “The previous highs were during last year’s Canstruction event: 35,000 pounds of food and 1,400 guests,” Executive Director Rucker Preston said.   They served 4,000 guests this year.   Canstruction is a worldwide charity event crafted from good hearts, cans and art.   As canstruction.org states, the event “showcases colossal structures made entirely out of full cans of food.”   After structures reach completion, they are organized for the public as a giant art exhibition. All the food is donated to local hunger relief organizations.   The charity has raised more than 25 million pounds of food since its founding in 1992. Canstruction events are held annually in more than 150 cities around the world on five continents.   Helping Hands brought the charity to Central Texas five years ago. This year, the art displays were as masterful as ever.   “Who isn’t impressed by carousel horses with beef jerky manes? Or a ship sailing on a river of tuna? Or Mr. T on a Wheaties box?” BSM director Shawn Shannon asked rhetorically.   She’s gathered students each year to help with the de-canstruction process.   Shannon has witnessed Canstruction become an established community experience.   “The structures themselves are always amazing, and the items for the silent auction will surely bless those who purchase them to bless others,” Shannon said. “Yet, I really like how well Helping Hands tells the story of needs seen and met through the mediums of pictures, pamphlets, video and testimonies. It is an amazing on-going story of goodness in action,” she said.   And what might Jesus canstruct if He participated?   “Whatever he would make, it would be good, true and lovely,” Shannon said. “Whose to say he wasn’t there?” She added.   “For an event like this to go as well as it did, I believe that God’s hand was at work well before and all during the event,” he said.   Central Texas houses many underprivileged families and individuals with great needs. Often, the need can seem too much to meet.   “Part of what I love about the work of Helping Hands is that they approach situations that most of us find overwhelming and move with Christ into these hard, otherwise impossible places for the good of people and the glory of God,” Shannon said.   She has seen how the Canstruction event brings the community closer: “There is something crucial about gathering together around the purpose of caring for those in need. Here we learn together about needs and opportunities,” she said.  ...

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Speech Cru sets its sights on nationals
Feb18

Speech Cru sets its sights on nationals

Speech Cru brought home two third place sweepstakes awards at the Cowtown Swing Tournaments hosted by Tarrant County Community College and West Texas A&M Jan. 23-25.   University sponsor Kathy Owens praises the participants on their accomplishments as the team’s year-long run approaches an end.   “We’ve done so much with the little we have,” Owens said. “I am proud that our team can hold its own against the big schools with large teams and even larger budgets.”   Students prepare for their final tournament later this month on the road to nationals. Qualifiers so far include senior political science and history double major Zach Craig, junior speech communication and political science double major Kelzye Isham and senior public relations major Jasmine Simmons.   With each competition, Speech Cru members never seem to disappoint. Junior history and political science double major Stephen Bedwell set a precedent for the team’s future debaters.   “I am happy especially about the Top Novice in Lincoln-Douglas debate award for Stephen Bedwell,” Owens said. “Our program just took up debate in October, so it’s nice to be recognized.”   Owens, assisted by her husband, Dr. Kerry Owens, has led the university speech team for the last decade seeing tremendous strides in the program, none of which could have been done without the dedication and enthusiasm of the students.   “What I love is that the students aren’t here out of requirement, but because of the passion they have for it,” Isham said.   “Even if you don’t have any past experience with speech, it’s a really good thing to take a risk on,” she said. “It’s very conducive to learning and very conducive to growing your confidence in all of life, not just public speaking.”   Owens encourages any student who is interested in becoming part of the team to email her at...

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Ballplayer gets second chance
Feb18

Ballplayer gets second chance

By Michael Crosson   To most collegiate baseball players, the big prize is a shot at the major leagues. For one Crusader, it is about playing the game he loves and making the team better.   Emery Atkisson is one of 30 members of the UMHB baseball team. He plays second base and shortstop. Atkisson is grateful for his position on a team. For a time, he wondered if he would ever be a college athlete again.   “The game finds a way to humble you. Although my shoulder injury was unfortunate, I have found a new love for the game and gained a greater understanding of life as well as the importance of a good work ethic,” says Atkisson.   Before the ballplayer’s injury, major league scouts from the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves franchises were following Atkisson.   “I had a set rehabilitation program at Stephen F. Austin, but I tried to push myself too hard, which ultimately prolonged my recuperation process. However, it has been two years since my surgery and my arm is feeling better than ever and I am ready for the 2015 season,” he said.   The idea of an athlete going from NCAA Division I to Division III means Atkisson has to work harder to prove he is still an elite player.   “The biggest difference between Division I and Division III is the lack of athletic perks in terms of scholarship opportunities. We are encouraged to play for the love of the game. The passion we have for this game will ultimately lead us to becoming a better team and better individuals in the long run. We play because we love it and we learn life lessons through the games of baseball,” Atkisson said.   Atkisson believes his work ethic and positive attitude toward the game of baseball is the most valuable attribute he brings to the team.   “My work ethic was compared to Robert Griffin III in high school, I feel like that is what I bring most to this team,” he said.   Atkisson is excited for the opportunity to be a more vocal leader for the team.   “When baseball is good, Emery is good and I plan on having a very good spring,” Atkisson said.   If this team can push itself not only in beating Concordia or LeTourneau Universities, but in getting to the Division III College Baseball World Series in Wisconsin, then this team can become one of the elite Division III programs in the nation.   Chase Burrow, is also a member of the baseball team and plays left field. He said...

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Taking a shot at critics
Feb04

Taking a shot at critics

American Sniper, the gut-wrenching film that depicts the life of former U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has become an instant, box office sensation. The accomplished sniper has been lauded as a hero by many, but there are some who don’t think Kyle’s actions were so noble.   In a tweet, actor Seth Rogen compared American Sniper to a Nazi propaganda film. Hollywood producer Michael Moore tweeted similar sentiments saying, “We were taught snipers were cowards” who will “shoot you in the back.”   While it’s true that snipers don’t engage in hand-to-hand combat, calling Chris Kyle a coward and comparing the film to Nazi propaganda shows ignorance in regard to what the film is truly about.   Nazi propaganda showed that it was an honor to kill others. They killed because they didn’t think certain people had the right to be alive and they took pride in doing so. Anyone who sees this in American Sniper is drastically missing the point.   Kyle didn’t shoot because he thought his targets were unworthy of living, he shot because his targets were a threat to his fellow soldiers and a threat to liberty in the Middle East. He didn’t take pride in the fact that someone died by his hand, but he did it because he felt it was necessary to protect the greater good.   While some in Hollywood may not view Kyle as an American hero, his native state of Texas does. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently declared Feb. 2 Chris Kyle Day.   Former Gov. Rick Perry described Kyle’s legacy best during a memorial service in Feb. 2013.   “Chris Kyle was the public face of an anonymous breed of American warrior who are handed the hardest missions and assume the largest risks,” Perry said. “Chris was among the very best at what he did, and he saved countless American lives in the process.”   We don’t honor Kyle for those he killed, because that would be patriotic propaganda. Instead, we honor him for the lives he saved and for his desire to protect the freedom of those who can’t protect...

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Noble idea, bad idea
Feb04

Noble idea, bad idea

One nation under God, indivisible with free tuition for all. At least that’s the pledge President Barack Obama made during this year’s State of the Union Address. Students at junior colleges with grade point averages of 2.5 and higher would have their costs completely covered.   While many Americans believe the White House’s proposal of free community college for every citizen is a noble gesture, some aren’t so sure it’s a practical one.   Supposing this plan was fiscally feasible, what happens to the influx of graduates who either enter the workforce with associate degrees or continue on to universities? How about working bipartisanly with Congress to implement measures to stabilize the economy so more jobs are available for the people who do pursue higher education? Qualifications are only as good as the market’s demand for them.   Transforming academia into a collegiate puppy mill churning out a flood of cookie-cutter graduates will only exacerbate the already inundated job market. We should be stressing the importance of identifying and choosing both traditional and unconventional career paths suited to each student’s unique aptitudes.   For instance, a certificate from a technical school that provides training in welding or specialized machinery is more practical in today’s energy-dependent, machine-driven society than a general business degree earned by someone who may have no aspirations of doing anything in a related field.   How will handing out tuition indiscriminately to students improve their work ethic? The incentive to achieve doesn’t seem to exist. According to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, only about 19 percent of those who already receive federal funding for community college complete two-year associates degrees within three years. Why should the government and taxpayers invest more resources in such a dismal failure?   This plan spells big trouble for four-year institutions as there will be a lack of freshmen and sophomore students. Downsizing will most likely mean less government funding, which translates into fewer faculty and staff positions adding to unemployment.   Because these schools have fewer students, tuition will be all more expensive for those who try to continue their degrees after becoming accustomed to free community college tuition. This aggravates the rampant student loan problem, further hampering the economic independence of the lower and middle classes.   There is also the question of undocumented immigrants and their children, many of whom already receive assistance at the expense of American-born citizens. Will the taxpayers have to further subsidize their educations? When will the incentives for immigrating to this country illegally be cut off so America can see that its own are cared for?   What about...

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Keystone XL: Conflict coming down the pipe
Feb04

Keystone XL: Conflict coming down the pipe

For years, progress on the Keystone XL Pipeline was slowed due to stringent opposition of environmentalists on the left. It’s a shame, seeing the pipeline promises jobs.   The climate-consciousness oppose the pipeline, claiming it to be an environmental killer. Our president happens to be one of them. Even after the Senate voted 62-36 in favor of the energy infrastructure project (nine of which were democrats), President Obama will most likely seek to veto the bill.   Al Gore, who’s known to blow smoke of all kinds, has become the Obama’s administration leading source for facts on climate change.   He told the Huffington Post the pipeline is a threat for climate change reasons.   In his climate speech last June, Obama said he’d support Keystone XL if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”   Keystone XL’s effects will resemble a pin-prick, not an atom bomb. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates Keystone’s greenhouse gas emissions currently amount to less than one percent of the United States’ total per year. The U.S. produces 5.5 billion metric tons of carbon pollution of the world’s 32.6 billion tons, coming in second to China, which puts out 8.7 billion tons. Keystone’s maximum addition to the nation’s greenhouse gas footprint: a measly .04 percent maximum. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions stated it a small increase. Nothing significant, Mr. President.   Keystone XL Pipeline’s benefits certainly outweigh any risks associated with it.   U.S. State Department reviews show global oil demands bid Canadian Oil come to market one way or another. These oil sands, the future of North America’s oil industry, could enter the U.S. by train, a hazardous endeavor.   Or, policy makers can approve the pipeline, not a foolproof transportation system, but with proper staffing and monitoring, a common sense routing system.   The Canadian Energy Research Institute says the United States can become the beneficiary of the following should an agreement come concerning the pipeline be reached: nearly half a million new jobs, more than $500 billion in U.S. government revenues by the year 2035 and energy security.   Go big or go home, America. Go Keystone XL. But then again, we don’t really have a say in the matter. Go pray 2016 will come...

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