Community stepping up to help Kinship provide a hand up: Youth mentoring program offering weekly food packages
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
From local churches and businesses to the group of volunteers they call the Food Angels, Kinship of Tomahawk has seen tremendous support from the community as they work to make sure nobody goes hungry during this time of difficulty and staying at home.
Now providing weekly boxes of food for families with youth in the mentoring program, Kinship put out the request for donations last week as supplies started to dwindle. As is always the case in Tomahawk, the call went out and the contributions came in in a big way, as donations from The Well, Grace Lutheran Church, Trigs, PCA, Dr. Bobbi Voermans, the Tomahawk Salvation Army Backpack Program and the list goes on had piles of food and other supplies available to send out to 26 families who received packages.
“The donations have been coming in like crazy,” said Patti Hilgendorf, executive director, in showing a large stack of thank you letters she has plans to send out thanking all the recent donors. “We have just been so grateful for all the community support and we are so blessed to have such a wonderful team of volunteers.”
Typically a youth mentoring program that matches youth with adults to provide additional positive influences in their lives, Kinship has taken on another role as the public stays home to try and stop the cornavirus pandemic. Each week a small army of volunteers come together to help collect donations and fill the boxes with food and other essential items that are provided as a hand up to help out and make sure KinsKids and others in the household have something to eat. The first week alone over 100 individuals were served and week two saw enough donations go out to feed over 80.
“If you know of any family who may be struggling right now and could use a hand up by receiving a food bag, please have them reach out to Kinship of Tomahawk,” Hilgendorf said. “There should be nobody in our community that is forced to go hungry.”
Hilgendorf said she has been really proud of the Kinship families as many have passed on receiving donations while knowing other families in the community might need it more. Kinship currently has 53 families in the program including 80 youth from the Tomahawk area.
With everyone practicing social distancing the way in which mentors interact with their KinsKids has had to change in recent weeks. Instead of meeting on a weekly basis to partake in something fun or educational, most ther intactions have now gone viral, as face timing and other online connections have replaced in-person meetings.
“We want to let the kids know that they are not forgotten,” Hilgendorf said. “We try to reach out to families on a weekly basis. These are tough times, and we want to make sure that nobody feels alone.”
Hilgendorf said any and all donations are appreciated, but what Kinship is looking for to include in the boxes are easy to make items like pastas and sauces, peanut butter and jelly, Mac and Cheese, Hamburger Helper and hot dogs and hamburger (in one pound packages). A complete list of needed items that can be donated is on the Kinship of Tomahawk Facebook page.
Hilgendorf said anyone who would like to help out and be a Kinship Food Angel can help out by making a donation. Items can be dropped off at the Kinship House, 27 East Wisconsin Ave., from 4:30-6 p.m. Monday and Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those making contributions, they can be left at the back porch, to also include a note with your name and address so appreciation cards can be sent out in the future. Kinship is also seeking any monetary donations that could be provided and checks can be dropped off in the mailbox or mailed to PO Box 653, Tomahawk, WI., 54487.
Those planning to make large donations or wanting more information should contact Hilgendorf at 715-966-0996. Families stuck at home during this pandemic might also want to check out the Kinship of Tomahawk Facebook page as a ton of fun projects and other learning activities are posted to keep youngsters entertained during this pandemic.