For eight years students at ABAC have put together a food giveaway for families of Tifton, Manna Drop. The first car arrived at Charles Spencer Elementary School at 4:30 a.m. While cars started to wrap around the school, a line of walk-ups began.
A total of 400 bags filled with a five-pound ham, cornbread mix, rice, canned green beans and canned corn. 400 bags were given to vehicles while the other 100 are given out to people directly.
The event was coordinated by five students of ABAC: Lane Riley, Loren Lindler, Jonathan Kroner, Landon Rowe and Cheyenne Colson. They worked throughout the year to get donations. Four-year Manna Drop veteran Lane Riley, says, “around $9,000 are spent by local businesses for the event.”
Students coordinate with business to get donations and volunteers. They work with the Charles Spencer Administration, as well as Tifton Police to organize people and vehicles.
The group is considered a club on ABAC’s campus. Manna Drop advisor, Dr. Tom Grant said, “they work hard every year to bring this all to fruition. They are the ones reaching out to people and getting the word spread.”
The Manna Drop orders food through Publix who also donates the reusable bags that are given to recipients. Colson helped to get ABAC’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries to send volunteers to distribute bags. A total of 17 volunteers including ABAC faculty and students worked the event. Students partnered with Ameris Bank to host a can drive in their business which was added to the bags.
The event was set to start at 10 a.m., but due to the long line of cars accumulating, distribution began early around 9:15 a.m. The 100 walk up bags were all gone within the first 30 minutes. A group of five volunteers including Colson, handed out the bags while wishing every person a “Happy Thanksgiving.” “These things are really important for the community, it’s just a good way to spread a little love for the holidays. A lot of people are thankful we can help them out,” said Colson.
After only an hour and 15 minutes, all 400 bags had been given away. Lindler was counting vehicles and helping to direct traffic during the event. “This is my first year helping out with it, but I was amazed at how many people were getting through the line,” she said.
The group was not surprised by the number of people who were ready for the event. Following the events of Hurricane Michael, more people in Tifton need help for the holidays. “We knew that this was going to be a successful year, Hurricane Michael caused a lot of damage that still isn’t fully repaired,” said Lindler. Once the final bag had been given out, Lindler had to solemnly turn hopeful cars away.
Riley plans to continue Manna Drop next year, “we want to try and get more meals next year, we had a harder time fundraising this year. This is the first year we actually decreased in the number of meals given away.” If you would like to help with the 2019 Manna Drop contact Riley at his email, email@example.com.