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Fill an Empty Table

Thanksgiving is usually that signal on the calendar that the year is quickly winding to a close. It’s a time to be introspective — what did I accomplish this year? It’s a time to make plans — how do I get better in 2018? And it’s a time to be grateful.

When you’re grateful you look for ways to lift up those around you.

There may not be a more perfect embodiment of this premise than our local food pantries and community service centers. They’re staffed with local volunteers, who tirelessly give of their time and energy in service of those in need.

Local people making a difference.

Now that’s something we can get behind! That’s why we set up the Fill An Empty Table holiday food drive. The goal was simple: bring awareness and raise funds for these great community services.

Each year during the food drive we receive a lot of questions from folks that are interested in giving. So we collaborated with our friends at Heights Unlimited, the non-profit community service group serving the Wisconsin Heights School District and surrounding communities, to bring you information right from the source.

1. What are the most needed items?

The most needed pantry items change quite frequently. Our current top ten list is as follows:
- Paper towel
- Toilet paper
- Boxed potatoes
- Canned mandarin oranges
- Meal in a box
- Pancake mix
- Pancake syrup
- Crackers
- Personal care items (shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, razors, hand soap)
- Feminine care items

*For an up-to-date list check your local pantry’s website or Facebook page.

2. How can someone help if they aren’t able to contribute $?

a. Volunteer — Volunteer — Volunteer!

b. Become an advocate! Learn what we’re all about, then coordinate food drives, set up fundraisers, and spread awareness of our value to the community.

3. What is something the average person may not know about Heights Unlimited and, more generally, food pantries/community service centers like yours?

a. There’s a surprisingly large number of families who struggle to make ends meet in our local communities, and we strive to help them out — not just with food, but with household and personal products, clothing, and more.

b. Folks experiencing hunger and need would much prefer being in a situation of not having to take advantage of our services, so our pantry volunteers must be empathetic and nonjudgmental.

c. Heights Unlimited is more than a food pantry. We have a clothes closet available to our clients. We also work with Wisconsin Heights School District, Joining Forces for Families (local social workers) and Northwest Dane County Senior Services to determine how HU can provide assistance to individuals and families identified by these organizations.

4. What is the best way for the average person to make the biggest impact with the least investment (time/money/etc.)?

a. Easiest, fastest and most impactful? An online donation! Every dollar donated can be leveraged to purchase 3.25 meals!

b. Purchase extra food or household items during regular shopping trips and drop these items off at the pantry or the bank when convenient.

c. Volunteer! We’re always looking for help working in the food pantry during open hours, assisting with food deliveries, and food pickup. Volunteering is potentially the most time-consuming way to donate, but it often has the biggest impact and payback in terms of client gratitude and satisfaction in knowing that you’re doing something that makes a difference.

5. Anything else you’d like people to know?

a. We struggle to handle everything that needs to be done at Heights Unlimited, even with our large cadre of wonderful volunteers. Please consider becoming a volunteer.

b. There are many non-profits doing wonderful work throughout our communities. Please consider giving when and in whatever way you can. You never know when you may be in a situation that requires you to take advantage of their services.

Our food drive ends on December 15th, but if you’re looking for ways to get involved we encourage you to reach out to your local pantry or community center. (See a list below)

Mazomanie areaHeights Unlimited & Mazomanie Community Food Pantry

Arena area: Call (608) 753–2078 or stop by the Village Office at 345 West St.

Barneveld areaBarneveld Community Food Pantry

Plain & Spring Green areaCommunity Food Pantry of Spring Green

Richland Center area: Call (608) 647-3203 or visit at 345 S. Cairns Ave.


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