Georgia Tech Wesley Foundation Hosts Campus 'Potato Drop'
Campus ministry, plus a Connectional Ministries grant, plus a local church partner equals 25,000 pounds of potatoes to hunger ministries in Atlanta.
By Sybil Davidson
Last fall the Georgia Tech Wesley Foundation hosted a “Potato Drop” at Tenth Street Underwood UMC near campus. The Wesley Foundation received 25,000 lbs pounds of gleaned potatoes from The Society of St. Andrew
to distribute to hunger organizations.
Wesley Foundation staff and students connected with other student volunteers across the Georgia Tech campus to sort and package the potatoes, and partnered with a variety of Atlanta food ministries, large to small, to receive the potatoes.
“It was an opportunity not only for students to get connected to the Wesley Foundation and all we have to offer but, also a chance for them to connect to organizations doing amazing work right in their own neighborhood,” said co-organizer Kelly Rhyne, a program associate on staff at the Wesley Foundation, who planned the event along with third-year student Sarah Bitner.
On a chilly Saturday morning, 85 students participated. Ten of those were from the Wesley Foundation.
"The best part was seeing everyone in conversation with one another and making new connections, as well as getting to actually meet and work with the organizations we would be donating to," said Rhyne.
"[This is] the church that exists beyond the four walls of the Wesley Foundation building or any of our church buildings,” she said. “To be able to have such a diverse group of students come together from various backgrounds and even faiths is a powerful testament to what the body of Christ can and does look like. No matter their background, everyone packaging potatoes that day were all acting as one part of the body of God.”
The Wesley Foundation was able to host the event in part through a grant from Connectional Ministries.
"The Wesley Foundation is only able to do such meaningful projects with the generous support of the Conference," said Rev. Steve Fazenbaker, Wesley Foundation Director.
One of the recipients of the potatoes was Intown Collaborative Ministries. The event meant that each of the organization’s food pantry guests and co-op members could get as many sweet potatoes as they wanted for two weeks in a row, which was especially welcomed just ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
"Even some of our homeless guests who have access to microwave or a grill took a potato. It made me happy to be able to provide nutritious fresh food for our guests and members, who often have to rely on canned goods," said Rev. Sally Oakes, Director of Food Ministries for Intown Collaborative Ministries.
Rhyne said the idea for the Potato Drop has long been on her heart.
“I first came across The Society of St Andrew at the Youth 2015 conference when I was a youth leader at Harmony Grove UMC,” she said. “Participating in a Potato Drop at that event was a powerful experience. I loved that not only were these potatoes going to those in need to give them fresh produce, but they were gleaned and prevented farms from throwing away perfectly edible produce. Ever since then, it has been in the back of my mind to do a Potato Drop but I didn’t know where or when.”
When she began working at the Wesley Foundation, she saw the potential for an event like this to bring the campus community together.
“I finally drummed up the courage this year and started planning in the summer,” she said. “Honestly, it almost didn’t happen at multiple points in the process, but when God has a vision, things start falling into place in ways you will never believe. So, trust those instincts when God is pulling on your heart strings. You never know where it could lead!”
Learn more about the Georgia Tech Wesley Foundation at https://www.gtwf.org/