Extra funds go to Park & Rec
By Angie Landsverk
Wally Doran is turning a negative incident into something positive for the community.
The approximately $1,700 in donations he received over and above what it cost to replace a window at his business, after it was vandalized last summer, are going to benefit elementary students in Waupaca.
“I had an amount of money to do something with. I didn’t know anything better than to give it to the city. I thought that would be the most productive place to put it and be fair to the contributors,” said Doran, who has owned Doran Hardware since 1964.
In January, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department plans to have cards placed in the approximately 125 backpacks going out each week to Waupaca elementary students through Project Backpack.
Each of those elementary-aged students then gets to either choose a piece of equipment, like a volleyball or a football, or register to attend a park and rec program.
“It isn’t something we would typically be able to do. We’re excited to do something wonderful, that is beneficial to the community,” said Aaron Jenson, the city’s parks and recreation director.
Each Friday, Project Backpack delivers backpacks filled with food and snacks for the weekend to students in need.
Once families receive the cards from Park and Rec, if they are unable to make it to the rec center to register for programs or choose equipment, they may call the rec center.
“We can help them through the program registration or arrange for the equipment to get to them one way or another,” Jenson said.
Doran hopes some good comes out of the funds people contributed to help him replace a window at his store.
On Aug. 24, his business at 225 Jefferson St. was one of four vandalized early that morning.
Rocks were thrown through a large, plate glass window, and Doran’s insurance did not cover vandalism.
Matt Grunwald, of Waupaca Machine, emailed members of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, asking for donations to cover that cost.
Doran said Grunwald is “always in and out. All of a sudden, this was all done before I even knew it.”
Individuals and businesses from throughout the area donated funds, with more than 50 donors in all.
The donations ranged from $10 to an $800 donation from one local family.
“People were walking in. One guy had three $100 bills. I said, ‘Take it across the street (to the chamber office),’” Doran said.
Doran said he did not know the man, who told him he works at Waupaca Foundry and has enough money.
It cost $2,900 to replace the window, and Doran was then left figuring out what to do with the remaining donations.
“To send it back to people – how would you do it?” Doran said. “I thought why not leave it to the community and try to help somebody.”
He contacted Jenson.
Doran said the city’s Parks and Recreation Department was the first thing to come to his mind as to where to go with the funds.
“He specified he wanted it to go toward kids who need it more than others. As a Park and Rec staff, we talked about how we could do that best,” Jenson said.
His department contacted Project Backpack.
Doran wanted the funds to go toward an organization involved with youth – specifically elementary-aged students.
That is because he wants children to have a positive experience and see others care about them before they hit the teen years, when peer pressure increases and some head down wrong paths.
“Hopefully, something comes out of it for the betterment of the kid and even the 20-year-old,” the 86-year-old Doran said in regard to the two who vandalized his business, as well as others in downtown Waupaca.
It was Doran’s daughter Beth who arrived that August morning and saw the damage.
She arrives at the store early each Thursday to help her father with his bookwork.
“She had the police here when I got here,” Doran said.
When asked what his reaction was when he saw what had happened, Doran said it was, “Oh shoot, here we go again.”
That is because this was not the first time his business was vandalized.
Three windows in the lower level of the building were also replaced in the past.
In another incident, vandals tried to break into the former blacksmith shop in that level by breaking a small window pane. They could not reach and unlock the door, however.
Built in 1907, the building was originally Hansen’s Saw and Planing Mill.
“It’s been pretty quiet for probably four or five years,” Doran said of incidents.
He said he feels sorry for those who vandalized his business and the others in August, and feels sorry for their parents as well.
“I think it’s pretty cool what you decided to do with it,” Jenson said of the funds donated to help him replace the window.
Doran said, “It wasn’t mine.”
Jenson is grateful for Doran and the community.
“It’s a really neat time, around the holidays, to have this conversation,” Jenson said. “I feel very fortunate to have this conversation with Wally. It makes you feel good about where you live.”