Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) Despite the 14th season being almost a week shorter than usual, Rotary Winter Wonderland successfully reached its goals for cash and food donations.
Approximately 54,000 cans of food were collected both at the holiday lights display at Wildwood Zoo and from area businesses and organizations which undertook individual food drives, surpassing the seasonal goal of 50,000 items. Cash donations were not disclosed, but reached 120 percent of the goal.
“Personally, I was nervous about hitting our goal because the season was short and we had cancelled one day due to weather,” said Danielle Nystrom, project chair. “There were also some very cold days in the beginning of the month.”
Fortunately, the season saw some above-average days for donations. The project broke a record the weekend before Christmas, collecting over 13,000 cans of food in 3 days.
“I volunteered each day that weekend and it gave me chills to see how many people came to see the lights, many of which showed up with multiple bags of groceries,” Nystrom said.
Rotary Winter Wonderland traditionally starts the day after Thanksgiving and continues every evening through the end of the year. Because of how late the holiday fell in the calendar, organizers were faced with a shorter season in which to collect donations for the 29 food pantries it benefits.
“The fact that we were able to exceed both our cash and canned items goals in 32 short days speaks volumes about the generosity of our guests and local businesses,” Nystrom said.
Besides lights, the Rotary project was home to other special events, including live music by local artists, Santa visits, and horse-drawn carriage rides. Its popular igloo light fixture was also the site of a few engagements and even a wedding this season.
“I would like to thank everyone who visited or volunteered to make Season 14 one of the most successful years we’ve ever had!” said Nystrom.
The next step for the project will be to take down the lights. Those who would like to volunteer can show up at the zoo between 8-3 p.m. on Jan. 11 and 18. A hot lunch will be provided at noon.
Questions about how best to help can be sent to [email protected] or the Rotary Winter Wonderland Facebook page.