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Lehigh Carbon Community College

International students with their welcome bags from Waleska UMC.

By Jordan Beach 

Last week Waleska United Methodist Church offered welcome bags to Reinhardt’s international students in their ongoing efforts to support of The Pantry at Reinhardt.

Waleska United Methodist Church began supporting Reinhardt’s international student population three years ago to offer spiritual connections and homes to visit during holiday breaks. They continued the connections this semester by offering welcome bags to international students.

“Many international students are unable to travel home during breaks and holidays. Waleska UMC realized a need that could be filled,” said Wendy Hatfield, member of the church’s congregation. “Outreach started buying things to meet the physical needs and the congregation prayed for the students in hopes of building a spiritual relationship as well.”

The Outreach Committee at Waleska UMC serves to bring love into the community through connections with local students and families and seasonal projects. The committee has helped to keep The Pantry at Reinhardt stocked for students in need.

“The church wants all Reinhardt students to know we care, especially the international students,” said Hatfield. “These students are many miles away from home, feeling a bit out of place. They may not have any experience with a church or sadly, a negative experience. Waleska UMC hopes to develop positive relationships by sharing our gifts, prayers, service and most importantly, God’s love.”

This year has been met with exceptional need for the pantry. During the Spring 2020 semester, Reinhardt University vacated campus in response to COVID-19. While most residential students were able to return home, approximately 80 students couldn’t return home and were forced to quarantine in residence halls, including international students. Local organizations recognized the need to supply students remaining on campus with essential goods during the pandemic. Several other organizations provided students on campus during the pandemic with supplies, including Sonlight Vision Ministry of Hickory Flat Fellowship and the Rotary Club of Marietta.

Reinhardt’s food pantry, located in the Student Health Center in the Smith Johnston Residence Hall, offers non-perishable food items and a variety of personal hygiene products. The Pantry at Reinhardt is open to all students in need and helps international students in particular.