Wesley Bringin’ the Heat with Chili for Children

Fundraiser at Wesley Foundation

PHOTO | Tara Espinoza

The Wesley Foundation hosted its annual in-house Chili for Children fundraiser on Feb 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All the proceeds go to the Age to Age program, which has served the Russellville community for over 30 years by reaching out to children who need mentors in their lives.

“Dr. Charles “Whitey” Robertson was a board member of the ministry, and we all realized that we needed to bring in funding to support our mission and programs,” Rev. John Palmer, director of ATU Wesley Foundation and Age to Age Ministries, said. “He was handy in the kitchen and shared his chili recipe with us, and we have been able to make the chili event one of our biggest fundraisers.”

The Foundation has expanded throughout the years to include a new program called Corporate Chili for Children Week.

“As we grew, we realized we could expand our reach,” Palmer said. “We started connecting with local businesses and taking orders of chili and delivering them to the business.”

During this week, they serve over 75 businesses and make 1,900 servings of chili. They start preparing for the event in Nov. and serve over 2,300 bowls of chili during the two weeks.

“It takes a lot of hands to prepare for this event,” Palmer said. “We reach out to Tech and others in the community to help us, and we have always received help.”

“I am part of Zeta Phi Beta, and we pride ourselves in service,” Rachel Harrington, Tech senior, said. “I saw a flyer to volunteer and reached out, and I showed up early in the morning and got to work. I helped prepare 1,100 servings of chili to send out to the community. I had a lot of fun and was able to help out our community.”

The event sells four different types of chili: regular with beans, no beans chili, vegetarian and XXX hot chili. They note that regular chili is the most popular one.

Harrington was not the only Tech student to lend a hand; Hannah Pate, a Delta Zeta member and mentor for the Age to Age program, and Miranda Bentz, member of the Golden Girls, were also on-site.

“I’ve seen firsthand how this program changes kids’ lives,” Pate said. “So helping at these fundraisers are important to me. I arrived at 6 a.m., helped cook 60 to 70 large crockpots of chili, and got everything ready for delivery. It was quite a bit of work but so worth it.”

According to Bentz, it was important she helped the community and gave back. “God always wants us to help others out of love, and that is why I decided to help with the Chili for Children fundraiser for love,” she said. “I was on the team that stirred and made chili. I would tell others to volunteer because it felt good helping others.”

Currently, the Age to Age program is seeking a full-time director, and for inquiries, contact Palmer at 479-968-4159.