Sarah Summerall

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — Winthrop University’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry hosted its annual luau Aug. 29 to attract and engage new and returning students with free food, games, Kona Ice and door prizes.

This year’s event drew more than 250 people and organizers say they hope many of those attendees — who came out to play Connect Four, cornhole or volleyball — will return to BCM events throughout the semester.

β€œIt creates a low pressure, casual environment where people are able to have genuine fun,” said Paige Oliver, an assistant campus minster at BCM, who has attended seven luaus as a student and now staff member.

The goal of the luau, according to Oliver, is to bring students together in an environment where they can have fun and get to know one another.

β€œ(It’s) a chance to catch up with friends after the summer and to start recognizing new faces,” said Neely Pritchett, a junior psychology major.

Pritchett said it’s interesting to see who attends the luau, because BCM promotes it so heavily.

Caroline Clary, a senior social work major who has attended four luaus, said the event allows upperclassmen to welcome and invest time in younger students.

Clary said she hopes to continue working with students through BCM, as she plans to intern with the ministry next year.

The luau also had a surprise visitor as President Dan Mahony came out to speak with students and toss around a football.

BCM meets every Thursday night at 7 p.m. for free dinner, worship and fellowship.