Agropur employees in Weyauwega raised close to $5,000 this year for a local program by holding bake sales, brat sales and basket raffles.
“This is our sixth year doing this. From April 1 to Sept. 30, anything we raise is matched by Agropur,” said Sue Doyle, a human capital generalist in Agropur’s Weyauwega location.
That means their I Care, I Give events resulted in a total donation of $9,069 to the Bread Basket program, after Agropur’s corporate match was included.
On Dec. 9, members of the I Care, I Give Committee presented the donation to Bread Basket volunteers.
“It costs us probably close to $400 per week for our meal. This will help us a lot,” said Kathy Barnhart, who serves on the Bread Basket board.
The program, which is run by volunteers, is beginning its 20th year.
“We average between 200 and 240 meals served each week, including the to gos,” Barnhart said.
Fifty-one weeks a year, the Bread Basket meal is served on Tuesday evening at First United Methodist Church, in Waupaca.
That means the 10 board members and approximately 10 additional volunteers take just one week off a year.
“Everybody is a volunteer here. There’s no paid staff. All donations go to serving the meal,” said Doug Christie, the board’s treasurer.
The dinner is open to all who are seeking food and fellowship.
It began after a community member saw the need for such a program.
Initially, volunteers served a meal once a month at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
About three years later, they began serving the dinner each week.
When the program outgrew the space at St. Mark’s, it found a new home at First United Methodist Church.
The church donates the use of its facility for the weekly dinner and also storage space.
They begin serving the meal at 4:40 p.m. and are usually done serving and cleaning up by 6:30 p.m.
Last week, the program had additional volunteers.
Members of Agropur’s I Care, I Give Committee helped serve the meal.
Doyle said it was a way for them to be a presence and see how their donation will help.
Their donation to the Bread Basket is the Weyauwega facility’s second highest donation to date and is more than double the typical amount which has been donated each year.
Billy Lease, a member of the I Care, I Give Committee, said that at the beginning of each fundraising year, the committee meets and discusses potential nonprofits to donate to.
They like to give their donations to local programs in Waupaca County.
The Bread Basket was one of the suggestions this year.
In addition to Doyle and Lease, the committee includes Kyle Behm, Heather Ernst, Mark Davies, Mindy Ehlke, Steve Keeley, Klay Konrad, Tim Stearns, Timothy Stearns, Kayla Suehs and Annette Wentz.
Felica Winters, a member of the Bread Basket board, said her fiance Adam Pankow works at Agropur and knew about the I Care, I Give program.
“When I became a board member, I wanted to, in addition to serving the weekly meal, help build community awareness and raise money,” Winters said of the Bread Basket.
The Waupaca native got involved with the program about three years ago, after moving back to the community.
Looking for a way to get involved and meet people, Winters began bringing a special needs high school student she was mentoring to the Bread Basket to help him gain practical job skills.
“When he graduated out of the program, I still came and volunteered,” Winters said. “I’m not sure how it happened, but I was asked to be a board member and accepted.”
When Agropur’s local I Care, I Give Committee voted where to donate its funds this year, it chose the Bread Basket.
“We’re very fortunate to be helping the organization and look forward to next year’s campaign,” said Doyle.
Christie said the donation from Agropur is among the highest it has received.
“One individual gave us $10,000 twice. It’s right up there with the largest donations,” he said.
Those interested in volunteering at the Bread Basket may call Barb Eisenhauer at 715-258-9705.