Kansas University's homecoming will kick off today with a new event to unite town and gown in an effort to help the less fortunate in Lawrence.
Today and Sunday, KU on Wheels buses will be around town collecting canned foods. Organizers hope the buses will be stuffed with the cans. Campus groups that participate get points in the overall homecoming competition for the number of cans they contribute and locals get the satisfaction of knowing they're helping provide food for the hungry.
"This is our biggest outreach event," said homecoming chairman Bill Walberg. "Since we're moving our canned food drive off campus, we're expecting a bigger turnout."
The buses will be out from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at the 23rd Street Hy-Vee as well as at the intersection of Ninth and Massachusetts streets. On Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., the buses will stop at Daisy Hill and Dillons on 23rd Street.
Walberg said that the Stuff the Bus campaign and the addition of a money machine on Wescoe Beach on Wednesday are the two biggest changes for this year's homecoming week. With the money machine, students are invited to step into a box, and slips of paper with money amounts and names of prizes will swirl around them for a certain length of time. What pieces of paper they grab will determine what prize they get.
The success of the football team, Walberg said, bodes well for the success of this year's homecoming - with the theme Jayhawk Nation - which culminates with the football game against Nebraska at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 3.
"From the general feel around campus and through Facebook, I've noticed people are getting very excited about the Nebraska game and homecoming week in general," Walberg said.
There are about 30 different student groups registered to take part in the homecoming week activities, which also include a pep rally, singing competition and the parade.
Between five and 10 groups are expected to enter floats in the parade. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Nov. 3 at the Kansas Union and follows Jayhawk Boulevard to the Chi Omega fountain.