The second annual Picnic in the Park was coordinated by Bethany Cochran, junior in social science education.
“We originally thought it would be a meal that was directed toward people who maybe struggle with providing meals for their family or struggle in whatever area, and it kind of turned into this thing where anyone who wants to come and share a meal can,” Cochran said. “Everybody wants to eat, everybody needs to eat and everybody wants to meet new people and make new friends.”
Cochran said the purpose of the event is to provide people not only with a free meal, but also give people in the community an opportunity to meet each other.
“I think the residents in this area were kind of surprised that somebody was doing something like this, and some of them were really excited and were like, 'this is a really good way for us to come out and meet each other,'” Cochran said. “Not only was it a good way for us to connect with them, but also for them to connect with each other, and for them to start building relationships beyond just living next door to each other.”
Cochran was pleased with the turnout, especially the people who returned after attending last year.
“I like the fact that it brings everybody together,” said Crystal Parr, a resident of Third Avenue who attended Picnic in the Park last year. “It's just really nice to have it out in the public where everybody's invited to be able to meet new people.”
Parr said she was excited to hear Picnic was happening again this year and was impressed that a group of college students planned the event.
“I think it shows a good thing for our generation,” Parr said. “It's not just the older generations who think about other people, but it's the younger generations as well.”
Several churches and other people in the community donated money to buy the meat and other supplies, Cochran said.
The hamburger meat was purchased from the Auburn Meats Lab.
“We just asked whoever wanted to come if they were able to bring a side dish, chips or a dessert, and if not, we just wanted them to come anyway,” Cochran said.
Almost 20 international students attended the picnic.
“I'm really happy that we are all together here,” said Juwon Park, an intensive English program student from Korea. “I made a few friends here, and they are very kind. In Korea, there is no picnic like this, so I think it is a very good way to make a friend, and it's very fun.”
Park said he never before attended an similar event.
“The thing I like most about this is just seeing us as God's creation and coming together as his church and his body and enjoying a meal together,” said Ricky McLeod, a student at Columbus Technical College.
McLeod said he heard about the event through a friend who was also involved with Banquet on the Bridge, a similar potluck event that will take place November 6, 2010.
Meeting people from around the world was something McLeod said he didn't expect.
“I met some of the people who are in the exchange program here at Auburn,” McLeod said. “It was really cool to meet a few of them and see them come out and enjoy the fellowship and the meal.”
Cochran said Picnic in the Park is her way of giving back some of that with which she feels she has been blessed.
“The reason we're doing this is because we've all been so blessed by God, and he's given us so much,” Cochran said. “Even as college students, we joke about being poor sometimes, but we're not, and we have so much. We just wanted to share with others because God's given us so much and he asks us to take care of each other.”