OnFocus – Marshfield’s annual Rotary Winter Wonderland holiday lights display, which raises funds and collects items for food pantries throughout Central Wisconsin, concluded a successful 15th year on December 31.
In 36 days, the nonprofit collected $104,000 and 72,000 food donations. (The previous high was $72,000 and 62,000 items.) This was a 34% increase in food donations and a 60% increase in cash contributions over last year. These donations were distributed to 30 central and northern Wisconsin food pantries, which saw an increase in need this year.
St. Vincent DePaul of Marshfield served 400-500 families per month, according to Outreach Director Trisha Hebert. The Soup or Socks Food Pantry served 25% more households in 2020, and delivered 1,300 emergency food boxes this spring.
“We could not have supported all these families without the food from Winter Wonderland,” said Soup or Socks Director Cheryl Hartl. “This year’s donations will sustain us through the winter months. ‘Thank you’ does not begin to express our gratitude to all the volunteers who make this happen.”
Cash donations are shared with all participating food pantries after final project expenses are paid. Rotary distributes 100% of net proceeds to food relief in Central and Northern Wisconsin annually. Since the project began in 2006, more than $310,000 has been donated to hunger relief organizations.
This year’s display featured an extended drive-through path and displays organized to encourage social distancing. Hundreds of volunteers helped build the displays, which began construction in October.
If you or your group would like to be involved, please contact Rotary Winter Wonderland at [email protected] Everyone in the community can assist simply by visiting the display and donating. Since its origins, Rotary Winter Wonderland has collected nearly 800,000 items for local food pantries.
(Photos: Branden Bodendorfer – Wisconsin Drone Photographer)
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