By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Caring Ministries Food Pantry in Colfax has received a check for $1,056 from the employees of Bremer Bank.
The money was designated for the backpack fund and was raised at Bremer Bank’s Christmas open house in December.
RheAnna Jensen received the check from Bremer employees on January 10.
For the third year in a row, Caring Ministries is running the “Support For Sunday” program, which provides food bags to children in need in the Colfax school district every Friday.
“We have about 20 volunteers who get together to pack the bags, and it all runs very smoothly,” Jensen said.
Currently the “Support For Sunday” program provides 47 food bags every week to children through grade four at Colfax Elementary.
Volunteers pack the bags, and National Honor Society students deliver the bags to the classrooms where the teachers put the food bags in the children’s backpacks during recess.
At the Christmas open house this year, bank clients were asked to donate money for the backpack fund, and Bremer Bank pledged to match up to $500, said Royed Wollberg of Bremer Bank.
“Our clients were very supportive, and we’re pleased to be able to present the check,” he said.
The Caring Ministries Food Pantry purchases food from the Feed My People food bank in Eau Claire, Jensen noted.
For the “Support for Sunday” program, Caring Ministries also has set up a voucher program with Kyle’s Market in Colfax that allows participants in the program to take the voucher to the grocery store for fresh fruits and vegetables, Jensen said.
The vouchers are included in the backpacks every other week, she noted.
“I am so grateful to be part of a community where reaching out to our neighbors in need is a priority,” said Deb Toycen, coordinator of the Caring Ministries Food Pantry.
“I have witnessed such amazing generosity from individuals, churches, families, clubs and area businesses … every piece helps this outreach ministry continue to thrive. You are making a difference in the lives of families in our community,” Toycen said.
In 2012, the Caring Ministries Food Pantry served 65 families with 135 individual appointments.
In 2011, Caring Ministries served 50 families with 100 individual appointments.
“Our mission is to provide emergency food resources to families in crises situations,” Toycen said.
For monthly supplemental needs, families can use the county food pantry, she noted.
“They call us when they don’t know where else to turn for assistance,” Toycen said.
Most of the families served by Caring Ministries in 2012 are not “repeat clients,” she said.
Of those served, “43 out of 65 families had not been to Caring Ministries in 2011, (and) 37 families only needed one-time assistance to get back on their feet,” Toycen said.
Unemployment or not enough work hours and medical issues continue to be the main reasons why people seek services from Caring Ministries, she said.
All of the administrative work for Caring Ministries is done on a volunteer basis, and 100 percent of all donations go directly to help Colfax families in need, Toycen said.
Caring Ministries continues to be in need of cash donations and food donations.
“Any amount will help tremendously, even $5,” Jensen said, noting that many churches have food donation boxes, along with various businesses in the community.
If you wish to donate, checks may be sent to Caring Ministries at P.O. Box 216, Colfax WI 54730.
If you would like information on how to volunteer to help Caring Ministries — or if you need assistance — call the food pantry at (715) 704-6400.