HARRISON, Ark. – North Arkansas College, or Northark for short, sits on the southeast side of Harrison. With just under 2,000 total students, it’s a campus where most know or know of others as you see them walk by.
For 20 years, Jeff Brasel and his wife have done different things for the schools in the area with the help of youth pastors and churches, to support the students on campus as well as students who visit from other schools.
“My wife and I have always done things, she’s a schoolteacher, for the schools. Like make the goody bags for teams and organizations that have gone to compete some place overnight. So, we just kind of transitioned that, with the help of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) about a year ago and started giving those goody bags to teams and organizations that visit Harrison to give them a good impression,” Brasel, who is the BCM minster at Northark, said.
This idea was supposed to launch in the fall of 2022, but Brasel said they decided to move forward with it sooner after receiving a monetary donation from the Harrison Chamber of Commerce to continue the project. They had already begun giving these bags out to different teams and organizations anyway.
“They [Chamber of Commerce] heard of what we had started doing and realized they had some leftover money, so they reached out and asked if we could use it because they liked what we were doing,” Brasel said.
They pack the goody bags with some snack foods such as packages of peanut butter and crackers, popcorn, mini candy bars, peppermints and a bottle of water. Brasel said they also include a note of encouragement along with the BCM’s email address and share that if they have any prayer requests or questions to email them. While they haven’t received any requests or questions yet, they have received several ‘thank you’s’ from people, which has made the outreach worth it.
The only things left on the schedule this semester are various sporting events like baseball and softball games. Brasel said his team of BCM students and volunteers from the school and surrounding area churches hand out goody bags. Even Brasel’s grandson gets in on the distribution.
“We use him a lot in handing out the bags after games,” Brasel said. “Tempers can get heated, so a cute little boy handing you a bag of goodies helps diffuse the situation.”
Brasel said they’ve given out over 1,000 bags already with basketball season wrapping up and with baseball and softball seasons starting up they plan to give out even more, no matter the score on the boards.