Vittoria Bell brings food to customers.

Brenau Catering holds fundraiser for Wesley Warriors and the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta

Feb 5, 2021
Kathryne Davis

Brenau University’s catering service offered curbside pickup meal deals with the added value of helping children in need on Thursday, Feb. 4.

All cash proceeds from the meals are going to the Wesley Warriors Foundation Fund at the North Georgia Community Foundation to provide financial assistance to nonprofits and initiatives that support children and families impacted by childhood cancer. Currently, the fund is providing Medi Teddys to patients at the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.

The fund was started in honor of Wesley Gailey, 3-year-old grandson of Brenau alumna and trustee Anna Alexander Jacobs. Wesley was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Leukemia in September 2020. During his treatments, Wesley’s aunt gave him a Medi Teddy, which is a teddy bear that hangs on the IV pole and hides medicine and blood transfusions.

Wesley Warriors has already garnered enough support to fund Medi Teddys for all the cancer and blood disorders inpatient rooms at the Egleston and Scottish Rite hospitals in Atlanta. The family wanted to continue to help, so they are raising money for every room at the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta to have a Medi Teddy.

Vittoria Bell, Brenau catering services director, heard about Wesley’s situation while catering for his grandfather Jay Jacobs, who mentioned the Medi Teddy. She contacted Jay and Anna Jacobs a couple of months later to share her idea of doing a fundraiser through Brenau Catering Services. They loved the idea and thought it was a great way to bring more Medi Teddy’s to patients in situations like Wesley’s.

“I want to help the children going through this,” Bell said. “I did this to make sure they had Medi Teddys to make their situation less traumatic. We got about quadruple the amount of orders we usually get. I knew the community would step up and rally together.”

Anna Jacobs said Wesley was excited to get his Medi Teddy, and it made the process less scary for him.

“Wesley’s parents decided that it would be a cool gift to give to other children in the same situation,” Jacobs said. “The response has been unbelievable. We want to keep it going to provide more Medi Teddys for children in the hospital.”

Brenau University President Anne Skleder said that she is impressed and delighted by the creation of the special fund, the initiative of Brenau Catering and the strong community support.

“The Jacobs family has been an integral part of Brenau University for generations,” Skleder said. “John Jacobs Jr., the great-grandfather of Wesley, served as a Brenau trustee for 53 years, 23 of those as board chairman. His daughter-in-law Anna continues the family legacy as a current board member and chair of the board’s External Relations Committee. The Jacobs family’s leadership and generosity continue to leave indelible marks on Brenau University.”

More than $4,300 was raised Thursday for Wesley Warriors, with more fundraisers planned in the future.

The fundraiser brought out several first-time curbside customers, including Lori Thompson who works for the Jacobs family at AccessWDUN.

“I’ve known Wesley since he was born,” she said. “I’ve known his mother, Lydia, since she was a small child. I just want to support them. I’ll do this whenever they fundraise for Wesley and maybe some other nights as well. I think it’s really good to fundraise this way.”

Another first-time customer, Joseph Wilson, knows the Jacobs family as well and wanted to support the fund.

“I just love Wesley, his father, Jake, and the whole family,” he said. “It feels good to give back.”

Bell says Brenau Catering, provided by Aramark Corp., started the curbside dinners after students went home in March due to COVID-19 as a way to help keep people employed and make dinnertime a little easier for the community.

“It has been a bit of trial and error because this is completely different from anything we’ve ever done,” she said. “We’ve learned a lot over the past 10 months. We stopped for a couple of weeks before the fall semester started and kept getting requests from the community to continue. We’re going to do it as long as we can.”

Aramark Corp. provides food, facilities and uniform services to clients, such as Brenau, in education, health care, business and other industries in the United States and around the world. For more information on Brenau’s curbside pickup, Bell can be reached at brenaucatering@brenau.edu.

Skelder has high praises for Bell and the work she and her colleagues are doing.

“A university is only as strong as its partners, and Brenau University is most fortunate to have a stalwart partner in Aramark Corp.,” Skleder said. “At Brenau we are proud to partner with organizations who engage in the greater good. Vittoria Bell and her team are a fine example of creativity and compassion for a worthy cause.”

To donate to Wesley Warriors, go to ngcf.org/wesleywarriors.