“Even 20 years into this effort, the outpouring of support is always overwhelming,” says Jeff Thelen, WSAW anchor and campaign coordinator.
WSAW, Gray’s CBS affiliate in Wausau, Wis., has raised $1,322,742 during the 20 years of its annual “Share Your Holidays” campaign.
This year’s campaign raised $149,063 and thousands of pounds of non-perishable food.
All of the money is split between the Wausau Salvation Army and The Neighbors’ Place. Food that was donated will go to Peyton’s Promise for distribution to multiple food pantries.
Studies show that every dollar donated to a food pantry buys three or four meals.
“Even 20 years into this effort, the outpouring of support is always overwhelming,” says Jeff Thelen, WSAW anchor and campaign coordinator. “I’d love nothing more than to say the need no longer exists and we can bring Share Your Holidays to a close, but as long as the need is there, we’ll keep trying to help.”
The 2022 Share Your Holidays campaign began on Nov. 23 and concluded on Dec. 30.
Viewers were encouraged to donate money online. Donors could also drop off food or money at WSAW or at IncredibleBank locations in the Wausau area.
WSAW staff also play a large role, donating their time and resources to help support the campaign.
For the first time post-pandemic, WSAW staff and sponsors participated in several events aimed at driving donations.
On Dec. 2, staff walked along the Wausau Holiday Parade, collecting hundreds of pounds of non-perishable food and monetary donations.
On Dec. 16, more than $1,800 was raised as station staff pumped gas at Wausau and Weston Wagner Shell locations in exchange for donations during the “Celebrity Gas Pump.”
Then, on Dec. 21, IncredibleBank staff worked the phone lines during a two-and-a-half hour phone bank, raising just over $11,000.
“It was so great to return to our traditional Share Your Holiday events, which allow all our news, weather and sports departments to be involved,” says Bridget Fargen, WSAW’s news director. “For some it was their first time taking part in the Wausau Holiday Parade and the Celebrity Gas Pump. It’s great to see our staff come together to help people in the community!”
Thanks to matching grants, every dollar donated up to $76,000 was doubled.
The BA and Esther Greenheck Foundation, The MacDonald Foundation, The Miller-Halverson Family, the Dudley Foundation, JX Truck Center and IncredibleBank all provided matching grants.
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