The Power of
Underdog on a Mission
By David Jones
People love a good underdog story. It’s part of the reason children are so drawn to the real-life story of David and Goliath. It’s why simply saying the name “Rocky” conjures up images of a boxer with the “eye of the tiger.” It’s why Frodo Baggins is one of the most relatable and beloved characters in all of fictional literature.
For many years, there has been a type of underdog deep in the heart of Nashville, often dwarfed in size by giants, yet standing out among the crowd because of its heart, conduct, and eternal impact. Since 1942, Welch College has made a profound influence on its community through the Christ-like service of its students. Although small in number, the student body has left a lasting impact that far surpasses its enrollment numbers.
As Welch College enters an exciting new era, I thought it important to share a couple of behind-the-scenes stories from my time at Welch. Although these stories are unknown to many, they truly convey the heart of the student body, both past and present, and the impact the college has made for 75 years.
Red Cross and Red Flags
During the 2006-07 school year, the student body conducted an annual blood drive for the Red Cross. As student body president, it was my job to communicate with the Red Cross and find out their hopes for the drive. I spoke to the representative who headed up the drive, and she wanted us to set a goal of 30 donors for the day. She told me that if we happened to have more than 30, I should call her, and they would send extra help. During our student council meeting, the society and class presidents took this very seriously and went out to the student body and encouraged sign-ups. We didn’t have 30 people—we had 78 people sign up!
When I called the lady from the Red Cross, she freaked out. I expected jubilation, but what I heard was absolute shock. Trying to find her breath, she told me, “We don’t have enough workers on staff to cover that many people!” Luckily, she was able to find additional help to cover the drive. Including the 78 initial signups, we had over 90 people donate blood that day—including many members of the faculty and staff—and even had to turn away some students because there weren’t enough workers or hours in the day to get all of the donations.
In the following days, the representative from the Red Cross called me in tears. She said her boss had called her because a red flag showed up on their donor page. That red flag indicated an unusually high amount of donors in an area, and all of those donors were from Welch College. She explained that our small college had donated more blood than other local colleges with nearly 50 times as many students!
With tears, she thanked us for going above and beyond and shattering expectations. She recognized something special about our school and students, and she was extremely grateful for what we did. She had no doubt we cared about others.
A Truckload of Food
During that same school year, the student body contacted Second Harvest Food Bank about volunteering at their facility. Unfortunately, Second Harvest was so low on food donations at the time they couldn’t use our help. So, in typical Welch College fashion, the student body decided to remedy that situation with a food drive to replenish their inventory. Once again, the student council worked hard to promote this, and the student body responded in an amazing way. Day after day, students came into the student center with huge cardboard containers of canned goods and other items. As the donations continued to pour in, I watched as the cardboard cracked under the weight of the donated items. What started as a small idea turned into a colossal effort, as the massive piles of donations blocked the walkway in the student center.
When the drive ended, we totaled the number of items and called Second Harvest. I wondered how we were going to get that many items in our cars to deliver them. When Second Harvest heard, they laughed: “When there are that many items, we don’t expect you to bring them in. We’ll send a truck to pick them up.” And so they did.
I vividly remember watching the Second Harvest workers wheel in dollies and take box after box to their trucks. In total, we ended up donating 1,000 pounds of food. In the following days, an email arrived from Second Harvest Food Bank. They expressed their amazement and admiration at what a small school could do and thanked us for seeing a need and finding a way to meet it.
Small College, Eternal Impact
Plenty of other stories could be told—students raising money for mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa; students taking their Saturdays to cut grass, rake leaves, clean gutters, or provide babysitting for the community at no cost; the student body voting to donate $5,000 to the World Missions Offering. These stories aren’t anomalies. They are true representations of the students at Welch College, past and present. These stories won’t make the evening news, get written about in a local paper, or even be tweeted about for all to see. They don’t need to be. But these stories epitomize a college, a campus, and a student body that truly cares about serving God and serving people.
In a city with colleges enrolling thousands, people might see Welch as a great underdog story. But if you talk to any students, faculty, or staff, they’ll tell you what this small school does is no surprise. In fact, the college has been doing it for the past 75 years. “Within these halls we love so well . . .” are students who will continue changing the world by loving God and loving people. It’s a great story that will continue to be told for years to come.
About the Writer: David Jones is a senior editor at Randall House Publications. Learn more about Welch College: www.Welch.edu.