Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season

One of the first things I learned about Menomonie when I began working at the co-op in college was how much our community likes to give back. Whether it’s through donations or volunteering your time or services, there is always some way that our neighbors are lending a helping hand. The holiday season can be more stressful than joyful for the folks who are experiencing food insecurity, lack a safe place to stay, or live paycheck-to-paycheck. Fortunately, there are plenty of nonprofits, churches, and other organizations that provide services to those in need all year but even more so during the holiday season. Here are a few to which you can donate or utilize yourself this year:

Stepping Stones of Dunn County is best known for being our local food pantry, but their services go beyond food distribution. Their vision is to foster a community that prevents hunger, homelessness, and isolation throughout Dunn County. Please consider donating or volunteering to help this great community resource. Learn more about them at steppingstonesdc.org.

• The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday for anyone in need of food, and there are no income requirements.

• Project SAM (Share-A-Meal) bags are available to kids Pre K-12th grade to bring home on weekends when school food is unavailable.

• Pop-up pantries take place at the Sand Creek Arts Building, Ridgeland Area Community Center, Downsville’s New Hope Lutheran’s Fellowship Hall, and Viking Bowl in Colfax.

• Senior Monthly Food Boxes are available to those 60+ and low-income.

• Emergency shelters, housing assistance, and referral services are available for those without housing. They offer furnished apartments to help folks get back on their feet and provide aid with gas, medication costs, or community connections to other services.

As the weather gets colder, a hot meal can make a big impact on someone’s life. That’s why free weekly meals are available to-go at many local churches:

Menomonie United Methodist Church: Mondays from 5:00pm-6:00pm
St. Joseph’s Church: Tuesdays from 5:00pm-5:45pm
Christ Lutheran Church: Wednesdays from 5:00pm-6:00pm
First Congregational United Church of Christ: Thursdays from 5:00pm-6:00pm

Our neighbor Love Church hosts a free Thanksgiving meal each year and served nearly 500 families in 2020! This year they will be delivering meals made from scratch. If you’re interested in receiving one or donating to the cause, visit wearelovechurch.com.

In addition to food and shelter assistance, some local businesses offer more ways to help out if you’re able:

Woodwind Park, a beautiful park for hiking, biking, tubing, skiing, and more, hosts a monthly Play-it-Forward Day where a portion of their proceeds benefit a local nonprofit. They will be giving back to The Bridge to Hope in November and Arbor Place in December. Visit woodwindpark.com for dates and information.

The Wisconsin Foster Closet provides clothes and other necessities to children in foster care. During the holidays, they also match sponsors with children in need to provide gifts and clothes based on the child’s interests. Find out if volunteering or sponsoring is a good fit for you at wifostercloset.org.

The Bridge to Hope hosts an Adopt A Family event where you can purchase gifts for a family in need. If you’d like to sponsor a family this year, email Alyssa at alyssaf@thebridgetohope.org.

• If you have kids in school, consider re-upping their teacher’s supply of tissues, craft supplies, sanitizing wipes, and hand sanitizer. Mid-year is a great time to help them out as they often purchase classroom supplies out-of-pocket.

Food insecurity and homelessness continue to increase in Dunn County but is something that is often out-of-sight if you’re not personally using the resources available. This holiday season, give back what you can to our local organizations providing safety, security, and full bellies to anyone who is in need. Whether you can give funds or your time, any extra help goes a long way in supporting your neighbors!

This article was originally published in the November/December 2021 issue of our bi-monthly newsletter, The Morsel. If you’d like to read more stories like this one and stay up to date on the latest co-op news and events, pick up a print copy in-store on your next grocery run or find more news on our website here.

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