Walleyes for Kids’ donation helps cover fees
By Angie Landsverk
A donation to the Waupaca Parks and Recreation Department is making scholarships available for more youth to participate in park and rec programs.
The nonprofit Walleyes for Kids gave the department $1,000 for that purpose.
“This is something we’ve been talking about for several years,” Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson said of the idea.
Sometimes a family cannot afford the fee for a program.
In other instances, a family may only afford one season of a program, Jenson said.
The average fee for youth programs is $35 to $40, he said.
When Roger Hansen, who is the secretary/treasurer of Walleyes for Kids, approached Jenson about the organization giving the department a donation, Jenson was excited.
The mission of Walleyes for Kids is to help children discover sports.
“Most of our money goes to social services,” said Mark Stange, president of Walleyes for Kids. “We’re happy to have Park and Rec,to assist with this.”
The donation allowed for a system to then be developed to identify potential scholarship recipients.
“We set it up with the school guidance counselors,” Jenson said.
At the end of every registration period for a youth program, a list of those who registered is sent to the counselors.
The counselors then look over the names and see if there are any students who might not be registered because of the cost of the program.
They then give names of students who they believe may be interested in a program to Jenson. The counselors include the ages of the students.
Jenson contacts the families.
Two elementary-aged girls already received scholarships to be in the Beginner Basketball program, he said.
“Congratulations. You’ve been selected for a Waupaca Park and Rec Scholarship,” is what Jenson said to the mother of those girls.
Stange said Walleyes for Kids is happy to help support the work of the department.
“I really like the feel of this,” he said, noting he is particularly pleased the first scholarship recipients are girls.
Hansen said the scholarships will give more children the opportunity to be involved in programs.
“A lot of people have stories about coaches, teachers who made an impact in their lives. This gives us the opportunity to do that,” he said.
It was Harold Anderson, Jerry Taber and the late Jim Guderjohn who started Walleyes for Kids in 2004.
The three fishermen sought to help provide character building activities in the lives of children through sports and the outdoors.
Stange said the group has a couple functions each year to raise money for its efforts.
That includes a banquet in March and a golf outing in May. Walleyes for Kids also receives donations.
Hansen said they give money wherever there is a need.
“We want to let people know where the money is going,” he said.
Those who are involved in the organization volunteer all their time.
Jenson said this is the first time the Park and Recreation Department is able to provide youth scholarships, and he appreciates working with the school district to do so.
“Those are fun calls to make,” he said.