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By Missy Klatt
KNAPP — On the outside, Kyle Gean looks and acts like any seven year old who wants to grow up to be a hero, or a teacher or a firefighter.
For the members of the Knapp Community Projects, Kyle is already a hero. Kyle decided he wanted to raise money for the Knapp Food Pantry (Plates & Knappkins). To do this, Kyle baked and sold cupcakes.
Kyle is the son Monica and Randy Nichols and John Gean and is a first grader at Tiffany Creek Elementary School in Boyceville.
Kyle remarked that he wanted to make cupcakes after first baking a cake.
“When it was my first time baking, that is when I baked a cake for Jaden and Jordan”, said Kyle of his twin step brothers. After the good response from his cake, Kyle decided he liked to bake and that gave him the idea to bake cupcakes. Kyle’s mom, Monica said he was also influenced by “Nailed It” a baking show on Netflix where they have different challenges.
To sell the cupcakes, which were all Red Velvet, Kyle’s favorite, Kyle made a poster and a little video that his mom posted on Facebook.
“When it was my first time baking them, my mom videoed me and I said ‘I’m making cupcakes for the food pantry. Does anyone want cupcakes?” From this posting and word of mouth, Kyle’s project snowballed and they spent January and February and a bit of March filling orders for his Red Velvet cupcakes. Monica said that originally it was just going to be all in January but they weren’t caught up and people kept asking for them so they extended their timeline.
Kyle sold the cupcakes for one dollar each. Monica noted that most people bought them by the dozen. In total, Kyle raised an amazing $1,014.00 for the food pantry. When the volunteers heard the amount they gave him a huge cheer.
Marcia Finder, president of the Knapp Community Projects, raved that they are so grateful for Kyle.
“It’s just amazing that a seven year old would do this and think of them. He deserves so much credit,” stated Finder.
Elsie Obermueller, another volunteer and also a member of the Wilson Legion Auxiliary, plans on nominating Kyle for the Legion’s ‘Good Hero Award’.
This is not Kyle’s first time helping out the food pantry, Marcia noted that last year Kyle collected about 200 pounds of food for the pantry.
Throughout all his baking, they only had one batch that didn’t turn out so they made them into cake balls which Monica stated were delicious. She called this a happy accident which Kyle agreed because then he got to eat some of them.
As for the baking itself, Kyle would do all the mixing and stirring and decorating while mom would scoop them into the pans (just because it would get messy) and take them in and out of the oven. After they cooled, Monica would frost them and then Kyle would decorate them with chocolate chips, marshmallows or sprinkles.
While Kyle is done making cupcakes, at least for now, he still plans to bake for his family’s birthdays and other parties.
Besides helping around the house Kyle likes to play football, play outside with Jaden and Jordan, go four wheeling and play Minecraft (a video game) when he’s at his dad’s.
Knapp Community Projects
The food pantry in Knapp is run by volunteers that are overseen by the board of the Knapp Community Projects (KCP). The food pantry is just one of many projects that the board takes care of. Other things that KCP does every year (a year without a pandemic shut down that is) are: sponsor breakfast with Santa, make gift bags for the children attending the breakfast with Santa, make a free Christmas dinner for anyone alone for Christmas, sponsor the Boyceville Men’s Choir each year with refreshments, purchase Christmas presents for children each year, provide fruit baskets for seniors in Knapp at Christmas, donate money towards the Christmas lights in the park, sponsor a spaghetti supper, help with benefits for people in need, donate gas cards to those traveling for medical treatments, donate and help with things on the Fourth of July, pay the light bill and garbage at the Link building (where the food pantry is located).
Other one-time projects they have sponsored include redoing the kitchen at the Knapp Hall, redid the upstairs floor at the Hall, added a bathroom, new doors, lights and spray painted the inside of the Link building, bought an outdoor freezer and refrigerator for the Link Building, purchased some of the playground equipment and bought flower pots and flowers for Main Street. Most recently, the organization donated to the Texas Disaster Relief.
The group started in 2003 with food distribution and slowly grew into a full food pantry by 2004. The pantry is operated solely on donations from people and businesses in the community and a few fund raisers. Of course, most of their events and fund raisers didn’t happen this past year due to COVID.
The pantry is open from 2-5pm on Thursdays. When asked if there were any special criteria for using the food pantry, Marcia said, “if you eat you qualify”. They are one of the few food pantries in the area that has no income guidelines. For those that can’t make it on Thursdays, the board members are accommodating and will come down and open up the pantry if there is a need. A phone call to one of the board members is usually all it takes.
The pantry buys their food from Feed My People so they have to keep track of the poundage of food that they give away. Every box of food is weighed before it goes out the door. On average, people get between 70-90 pounds of food. They also have to weigh any food that gets donated. All this gets reported back to Feed My People.
The pantry also holds food distribution four times a year on the months when there is a fifth Saturday. People don’t even get out of their cars for this. They register at the beginning of the line and they drive up and volunteers will fill the boxes and then load them into their cars. Each family that registers gets between 80-100 pounds of food. Other than the food distribution is mentioned in the Senior Highlight paper most that come have heard about it by word of mouth. They distribute to about 150 families.
The pantry is also fortunate to get weekly donations from MarketPlace in Menomonie and from the new Kwik Trip in North Menomonie and once a year when the post office collects food in May, all the food that is collected on the Knapp route goes to Plates and Knappkins.
All the food that is donated is picked up by various board members. Mary Norton, vice president of the group and truck driver, uses her rig to pick up all the boxes that they use to put the food in for distribution. She picks up the boxes from Whole Foods in the Cities.
Danette Hackbarth, secretary of the group, credits their volunteers for hours and hours of work. She said that some of them put in more hours than the board members. Marcia said she can’t say enough about the volunteers they have but they can always use more. If you are interested in volunteering with food distribution or other projects that the committee works on please give Marcia a call at 715-308-1314.