The Athens Area Alumni Chapter began a new tradition during this year’s G-Day. Before the big game, the chapter organized a tailgate to reconnect with UGA fans and alumni from all over the state.
The chapter held the tailgate at The Intersection at Tate. The chapter provided free food to the attendees from The Flying Biscuit Café, gave away UGA swag and fostered a fun environment where people could enjoy themselves before the scrimmage began.
Bringing in Bulldog Basics
Beyond engaging with their fellow alumni, the Athens chapter wanted to make a positive impact on the Athens and UGA community. They partnered with Bulldog Basics—a nonprofit that provides donated, unused toiletry and personal-care items to UGA students—and hosted an item drive in tandem with their tailgate.
“I know our event was some people’s first exposure to the great work Bulldog Basics does,” said Carrie Campbell (AB ’99, ABJ ’00, MPA ’18), vice president of the Athens chapter and senior public relations specialists with University Housing. “Spreading the message about how they support students was a big part of why [we] wanted to partner with them.”
The chapter encouraged guests to bring supplies or to purchase them ahead of time from Bulldog Basics’ wish lists. With over 130 registrants for the event, the chapter collected around 10 standard-sized moving boxes worth of items—enough to fill a truck! This doesn’t even include the items that were pre-purchased.
Bradley Erbesfield (BSFCS ’07, MSW ’10), one of the co-presidents of the Athens chapter and senior coordinator at UGA’s Disability Resource Center, recalled a special moment that happened within the first hour of the event.
Three alumnae approached him and asked him about the chapter, the item drive and Bulldog Basics. Bradley sat with them and explained the event and the impact it had on students in need.
“I love to see people feel comfortable enough asking us questions and showing interest,” he said. “I could really tell that their hearts came out to help others.”
While this marked the first G-Day tailgate the Athens chapter ran, this was not their first time holding an item drive. In December of 2020, the Athens chapter partnered with Bulldog Basics again and hosted a donation drive virtually.
Though this was during the pandemic, the Athens chapter still wanted to find ways to support the UGA community. By hosting an online drive, the chapter was able to work with Bulldog Basics without the need for person-to-person contact.
Those who participated could purchase items from Bulldog Basics’ online wish lists or donate money directly to the organization. No one had to leave their home to take part in the drive.
“We wanted to engage with the community and push forward despite the difficulties,” Bradley explained. “It was tough, but the drive ended up having this great impact.”
While both saw amazing results, shifting from a virtual item drive to their in-person tailgate allowed for the Athens chapter to physically see the UGA community come together. The amount of people who showed up—lugging heavy items like detergent or shampoo for the drive—exceeded expectations.
“The event mixed fun with engagement and philanthropy. Those are sometimes hard to bring together,” Bradley said.
With two successful donation drives done, the chapter is already looking ahead and hoping to do more with Athens-based organizations moving forward to support UGA students and the Athens community.