Community shows its support
By Angie Landsverk
The Weyauwega Police Department plans to make Handcuff Hunger an annual event following the community’s positive response to it last weekend.
“We set the bar high for ourselves. We will certainly be back next year,” said Police Officer Justin Malueg.
The first ever Handcuff Hunger took place Saturday, Dec. 16, at 600 S. Pine St., in Weyauwega.
From 3-10 p.m., people from throughout the area drove to the house and donated non-perishable food items for Weymont Food Pantry, which serves families in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District.
Malueg said 1,540 pounds of food and $1,903 in monetary donations were collected for the food pantry.
Police Chief Gerald Poltrock said people began stopping by before 3 p.m..
While shopping earlier in an area grocery store, he saw two people with carts full of food.
Both told him it was for the police department’s food drive.
“It made me smile,” Poltrock said.
Bags of food soon filled the back of one of the police department’s squad cars.
In the garage, boxes of food were also stacked in a corner.
Those who attended also got to watch a Christmas light show.
“The turnout was huge. By 6 p.m., the donations were already what we thought we would have total. I feel like so far, it’s going well for a first year. To have your community come together like this and donate is incredible,” Malueg said.
He said things slowed down around 7:30 p.m., but they continued to have a lot of vehicle traffic, with it remaining heavy until the very end.
“I am so thankful that we were able to do this for our community,” he said. “It definitely needed it.”
Malueg was joined in putting together the event by officers Lydia Buntrock and Heather Dahm.
Buntrock is hosting the event at her house.
Dahm helped set up the light show and also baked cookies for the event.
Putting together a light show for the community came up about two months ago, during a police department staff meeting.
Sgt. Brandon Leschke then brought up the idea of doing something for the food pantry, and Dahm came up with the idea of calling the event “Handcuff Hunger.”
The Christmas light show features more than 25,000 lights, synchronized to music and broadcast via radio station 107.7.
The light show continues to run from 5-10 p.m. every night through New Year’s.
“Justin, Lydia and Heather put in a lot of work,” Poltrock said.
He described the event as energizing.
“It’s all been positive,” Poltrock said. “It’s a community event. We’re doing this to support Weymont Food Pantry. Obviously, that’s close to peoples’ hearts.”
Weyauwega resident Frank Zaboj was among those who stopped by to donate food and see the Christmas light show.
“It’s great to see people turning out for something like this,” he said.
Chris Gunderson also lives in Weyauwega and attended the event with members of her family.
“Coolest thing ever,” she said.
The officers already have a few ideas of where the event could take place in 2018.
“It’s a good feeling to know that 100-some hours of all of us putting our heads together paid off,” Malueg said.
He said people from throughout the community helped by lending them supplies, such as extension cords and blow-up figures.
A family built a nativity scene.
Malueg said, “I don’t have a word big enough (to express) where a town this small, everyone flocks and makes it a success.”