ESP community shares love through summer camp lunches

Camp this summer was not only transformational to our participants, but also to our community. Local organizations and families donated their time and resources to provide hundreds of campers lunches through Lunches with Love. 

Lunches with Love gives the community the opportunity to serve our participants by providing them with daily lunches during their time at summer camp. This program encourages sponsors to become more involved with summer camp, something they don’t normally see throughout the year. In the past, this has only consisted of volunteers making lunches, but we expanded the program this year to allow sponsors to feel more ownership of the lunches. This year, groups sponsored lunches by either providing food for 150 campers or donating $750. Throughout the 28 days of camp that were sponsored, more than 5,000 lunches were provided for campers. Of these days, 12 were sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

Many of the sponsors, including Delta, chose to stay to serve the participants so they could further build a connection with the campers. “Giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve is a part of our DNA at Delta Air Lines, and it is also very important to me,” said Stayce Michelle, Secretary and Communications Officer for the Delta group ABLE. “I’ve always been a big advocate for giving back, supporting and being a voice for many in my community. Getting the opportunity to represent Delta serving at Friend Friday’s Lunches with Love has been an eye-opening experience! It allowed Fred, Kristen and I to see first-hand how important it is to have facilities and programs that support children, young adults, and adults with disabilities, allowing them their independence so that they can act on their own. As an officer for ABLE, Delta’s disability business resource group, our mission is to create accessibility for all, removing barriers while providing leadership and education to employees with visible and invisible disabilities. This also includes supporting our employees who are caregivers to their family members with disabilities. Being here today displayed how aligned ABLE (Delta) and ESP are with making sure that everyone, no matter what age, deserves an equal experience at enjoying life.”

Wesley Woods is another group that participated in Lunches with Love. “It was an honor for our residents and staff to help provide Lunches with Love during summer camp,” said Dana Chandler, Executive Director of Wesley Woods Athens. “We were met with smiles and open arms.  It was easy to get caught up in the energy and enthusiasm of everyone at ESP.  On the morning of the final Friend Friday, it was so much fun to be part of the celebrations welcoming campers. I can only imagine how special it makes campers and families feel.  Hip Hip Hooray for ESP and all the ways you serve!”

ESP would like to give a huge thank you to our sponsors: Graduate AthensWesley WoodsRing Container TechnologiesFirst United Methodist Church of AthensFox’s PizzaSouthern Timber SolutionsMeghan Garrard InteriorsOconee County Rotary ClubSynovusDelta Air Lines, Smith Adcock & CoStriplings General StoreHomestar-JeffersonMarquee Insurance Group, and Walton EMC. We are so grateful for these groups helping fulfill our mission!