EDMOND, Okla. – College can be a daunting time for many young people.
It’s particularly challenging for international students who find themselves far from home in a country vastly different from their own.
Charlie and Dona Bunn have worked for 17 years with University of Central Oklahoma students to change that.
“They do so much,” says Sherry Spencer.
So much, in fact, that Sherry nominated the Bunns for this week’s Pay It Forward Award.
David Fiesel, from Spirit Bank Mortgage, helped NewsChannel Four’s Linda Cavanaugh surprise the couple.
“When you say ‘Charlie’ to the International students, they’re like ‘Oh, Charlie’s house,” Sherry says. “Everyone knows who Charlie is because he’s helped them all in so many different ways.”
Every Tuesday night, Charlie and Dona fix supper for the international students, giving them a chance to mingle with each other and with Oklahoma students.
“Eighty-five percent of international students have never had a meal in an American home. So every Tuesday night, for Americans and Internationals, it’s kind of home away from home.”
The Bunns often pick up the international students at the airport when they arrive in the middle of the night.
They’re tired and hungry.
“So we get them something to eat and get them checked into the dorms. Then we take them to Walmart so they can get bedding and have something to sleep on,” Dona says.
In seventeen years, the Bunns have befriended more than 1500 international students.
“We’re the blessed ones because we get to experience people from all over the United States as well as almost 100 different countries around the world that come and call UCO home for a short period of time,” Charlie says.
Charlie and Dona have fixed more meals than most can imagine, feeding their bodies as well as their souls through their Chi Alpha ministry.
“We want to love them and serve them and welcome them to the U.S.,” says Charlie.
Dona added, “We want them to build relationships and go back and tell about the exciting things they did and the families they met and the places they saw.”