"Free stuff?” Charlie Vang asked pedestrians approaching the intersection at Southwest 26th Street and Jefferson Way on Tuesday afternoon at Oregon State University.

Those who took him up on the offer walked away with a Japanese good luck charm: an envelope containing a small piece of Japanese candy.

Vang, the OSU Pride Center’s community outreach coordinator, joined several other students from the university’s cultural and resource centers to pass out expressions of love in the form of sweets and small tokens to passersby. They handed out rubber bracelets, candy, cupcakes and buttons with the phrase “I love you” printed in five Native American languages.

They hoped the gifts would serve as a pre-finals week pick-me-up for students.

“We’re giving back; we’re showing our love,” said Lynna Lopez, the outreach coordinator for the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center.

They also used the interaction to remind students about OSU’s cultural and resource centers — along with the Pride Center and Black Cultural Center, OSU houses the Native American Longhouse, the Centro Cultural Cesar Chavez, the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center and the Women’s Center. Representatives from OSU’s Campus Crusade for Christ ministry also joined the group and passed out candy with a printed Biblical verse attached.

With finals week beginning March 19, Lopez handed students red velvet cupcakes while explaining that all the centers had computers, printing, relaxing spaces and full kitchens that provided excellent study space. She added that students don’t have to identify with a particular culture or group to use the centers, a misconception held by many people.

“They think, ‘If I’m not diverse, I can’t come in to the center,’” Lopez said. “They’re spots people are forgetting about.”

Although taken by surprise at first, the passing students appeared to be delighted with the sweets; all 120 cupcakes were gone in an hour.

While some students grabbed a piece of candy or bracelet and immediately hurried to class, others stopped to learn more about the centers.

Laura Copfer, a freshman majoring in political science, asked Lopez about the Asian and Pacific Cultural Center after accepting a cupcake.

“I’ve heard of them but I’ve never been there,” she said. That will soon change. Copfer plans to stop by in the near future.

Contact Gazette-Times reporter Gail Cole at 541-758-9510 or gail.cole@gazettetimes.com.

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