The second annual Hunger Doesn’t Take A Vacation Food Drive will be held during Waupaca’s July 4 parade.
Trinity Lutheran Church’s Youth Group will push shopping carts down the parade route and collect non-perishable food items for the Waupaca Area Food Pantry.
They will also carry cans to collect monetary donations the food pantry will use to fill empty shelves as needed.
“It’s a nice boost to get donations, because donations dry up in the summer. It all helps,” said Kathy Jenner, the pantry’s volunteer operations manager.
The pantry does not receive as many donations this time of year, because school is not in session.
School groups often organize food drives, and the most recent one resulted in more than 800 pounds of food being donated.
That amount was collected just before the school year ended from students who walked to the pantry to add their handprints to the mural on the pantry’s wall. Many also brought food donations.
The food pantry also received about 9,600 pounds of food from the May 10 Stamp Out Hunger food drive.
“The postal food drive was a fantastic one,” Jenner said.
The donations arrived at a time when the pantry needed them.
The number of people who visited the pantry during the first quarter of 2014 was up 20 percent over the number visiting it during that same quarter in 2013, she said.
Jenner said their numbers are 10 percent higher the first months of this year, over the same period a year ago.
She attributes the increase to a number of factors, including rising gas and food prices.
“People have to decide where to put their money,” said Linda Holtebeck, president of the pantry’s board of directors.
Jenner said six-tenths of the pantry’s clients are transitional clients who visit the pantry between one and three times over the course of a year.
The donations Trinity’s Youth Group collects during the parade will give the pantry a boost, she said.
This is the second year the group is turning its float entry into a way to serve the community.
Tim Gauerke works with the youth and came up with the idea after reading about a similar fundraiser in a newspaper.
That was two years ago, when he and his family were vacationing in South Dakota.
Gauerke had helped with Trinity’s float for several years and told others about the idea.
A tractor and driver were found, and last year, the front end loader of the tractor quickly filled with food.
Holtebeck’s husband Don was the driver last year, and he will be again this year.
“This year, he’s pulling a wagon,” Holtebeck said.
Jenner said those who want to bring food items to the parade for the pantry should think about the season when considering what to donate.
Ideas they suggest include ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, graham crackers, baked beans and pudding.
People should check the expiration dates on the items and also not bring anything in glass.
Jenner recommends donating regular-sized items.
“Most families are one to three (in size) who visit the pantry,” she said.
Gauerke said, “There is a need out there. We take it for granted.”
Neumann’s Piggly Wiggly will lend the church shopping carts for the parade.
“We’re grateful to Trinity for doing this,” Jenner said. “Families struggling day to day will be the beneficiaries.”