WACF awards $75,000 in grants
By Robert Cloud
The Waupaca Area Community Foundation awarded more than $75,000 in grants to 10 nonprofit organizations at its annual Celebration of Giving Sept. 26 at the Waupaca Ale House.
The grants are awarded from the WACF’s Waupaca Area Community Fund, which is supported by proceeds from its annual gala and other contributions.
During the event several of the recipients spoke about how their programs impact the community.
Pete Vanden Bush, with Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, said Project Backpack has grown steadily since it was started in 2010.
Each week, volunteers fill backpacks with food that is then delivered to elementary and middle schools on Fridays.
Children who participate in the program receive the backpacks, then return them to school on Monday so that they can be refilled.
When the program began in 2010, there were 84 students from Waupaca schools participating in Project Backpack.
Today, nearly 300 students from five school districts receive nutritious snacks for the weekend.
Last year, Project Backpack distributed 11,424 boxes of raisins, 9,900 applesauce cups, 8,976 packages of Ramen, 2,400 cans of tuna and 2,343 jars of peanut butter.
Vanden Bush said it takes more than 250 volunteers to run the program.
The volunteers buy food in bulk, then break it down into individual servings, pack the food into the backpacks, deliver the backpacks to the schools, then pick up the empty backpacks.
Volunteers also raise funds since the program is fully funded by donations and all donations go toward the program. There are no paid staff.
“This donation will feed all 300 kids in the program for five weeks or will feed 42 kids for the entire school year,” Vanden Bush said, regarding the $7,500 WACF grant for the program.
It costs approximately $5 per backpack per week.
“Last year, we delivered 10,000 backpacks for a total cost of $50,000,” Vanden Bush said. “This year started out with 33 percent more kids than last year, so we could potentially add over $15,000 in expense this year.”
2017 WACF grants
• Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region, $10,000 for community-based and site-based mentoring.
• CAP Services Inc., $15,000 for a skills enhancement program, Ministry Dental Center and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
• Catalpa Health, $7,500 to help support the mental health clinic for children and families that will open in Waupaca in October.
• CHAPS Academy, $7,500 for its Hope Lives outpatient therapy program.
• NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Fox Valley, $7,500 for its Waupaca teen support group.
• Rawhide Inc., $7,500 for About Face community outreach program.
• Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, $7,500 for Project Backpack.
• Waupaca Community Arts Board, $5,000 toward the 2017 Waupaca Bach Festival.
• Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, $5,760 toward the purchase of ballistic helmets for the county’s SWAT team.
• Waupaca County Suicide Prevention Coalition, $2,000 for a program featuring former Packers kicker Chester Marcol who will speak about his experiences overcoming addiction and an attempted suicide.