Rotary into partnership to fight hunger A flagship project Rotary Winter Wonderland will take part in the Stock the Shelves campaign to support local pantries and emergency food programmes that provide a safety net for the hungry.

Volunteer Cindy Etringer stocks shelves at the St.Vincent de Paul food pantry in Marshfield. Photo: Caitlin Schulz/USA Today Network-Wisconsin
Volunteer Cindy Etringer stocks shelves at the St.Vincent de Paul food pantry in Marshfield. Photo: Caitlin Schulz/USA Today Network-Wisconsin

The Marshfield Rotary Club (Wisconsin, US – D 6250) is well known for its Rotary Winter Wonderland, when people come out in droves to see the annual light show at Wildwood Park and Zoo, and now the club is doing even more to combat hunger in the community.

Rotary Winter Wonderland is partnering with USA Today Network-Wisconsin to participate in the annual Stock the Shelves promotion for the first time.

The Rotary club will accept and organise financial donations and distribute them locally to the Soup or Socks and St Vincent de Paul food pantries and the United Way’s Nutrition on the Weekends programme.

“When a basic need, like having food, is affecting those in our community, we want to help,” said Scott Larson, Noon Rotary president.

“To provide that help with food is something that is appealing to the club, and the community has gotten behind it, and that’s obvious with the success of Winter Wonderland.”

USA Today Network-Wisconsin‘s annual Stock the Shelves campaign is another way for communities to support their local pantries and emergency food programmes that provide a safety net for those in need.

For hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents, hunger and food insecurity are a daily concern.

More than 600,000 people in the state struggle with hunger, according to Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. About a third of them are children.

Stock the Shelves in the past eight years has raised more than $4.5 million for food banks and pantries across the state.

The campaign encourages readers to donate to a fund held by a local nonprofit organisation, and then donations are distributed to local food pantries. Donated money stays local.

Stock the Shelves donors in Marshfield are asked to make their cheques payable to Marshfield Rotary Foundation.

Community members who wish to help by donating food items can drop them off at Rotary Winter Wonderland or take them directly to a local pantry.

Last year proved to be Rotary Winter Wonderland’s best season yet.

Food collections totaled 52,400 items, and visitors donated $74,600, according to a 2017 email from sponsor chairman Al Nystrom.

“(Winter Wonderland) has brought a level of recognition to the Rotary club which we are certainly proud of in that we’re involved and that it’s so beneficial to the community,” Larson said.

Nystrom said in the press release that there were more than 1,000 volunteers who helped make the 12th year of Rotary Winter Wonderland its biggest yet.

“It’s a wonderful thing,” said Matt McLean, Marshfield Convention and Visitors Bureau director and Noon Rotary Club member.

“Getting over 50,000 people and exposing them to Marshfield, that it has a zoo, entertainment with music every night this year. It’s a great thing at a slower time for tourism and something that brings our community together and helps those in need.”

Annually, Rotary Winter Wonderland provides an opportunity for visitors to help fight hunger with a donation when they check out the Christmas light displays.

But the Marshfield Rotary makes significant efforts to help feed the hungry locally beyond the Winter Wonderland.

The Rotary club has participated in the Meals on Wheels programme since 1987, and it also contributed to the Opportunity Development Centers building project, Laird Center building project and the Marshfield skate park.

“The amount of kids locally that are on a school lunch programme and kids that are hungry in the community makes you want to do something,” McLean said.

“It’s a basic need and one we want all those in our community to get help if they are in need.”

Source: Marshfield News-Herald

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