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Rural fundraisers help outside the city

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Jack Haskins plans to serve chili and stoke the bonfire this weekend. The Solon Springs man spends a night in the elements beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Everyone is invited to swing by and support the Gordon Area Food Shelf.

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This is the fifth year Haskins braves the cold to collect donations for those in need.

"It's gotten bigger than I ever thought," he said. When his employer Ferrellgas began matching money raised from the event in 2010, the sleep out grew wings. Last year, the sleep out raised $8,671 and collected 800 pounds of food for southern Douglas County families.

"Jack is our largest supporter," said Joan Connors, food shelf coordinator. "I would never expect anyone to top him."

But the Solon Springs man is determined to outdo himself. "Bigger and better" has been his mantra every year, along with the slogan, "Douglas County doesn't end at Moccasin Mike Road."

Hunger doesn't have a border, Haskins said. The Gordon Area Food Shelf serves about 75 families from Gordon, Solon Springs, Wascott and Minong each month, and Connors said they are always getting new sign ups.

"It seems like every year more families go down there," Haskins said. "Times are hard; times are tough."

Even if the weather outside is frightful, folks will find Haskins and his son Austin, 18, sleeping out at the corner of Nyquist Road and Highway 53, one mile north of JT's gas station. The area will be brightly lit thanks to a donation from Dan and Sue Schoelzel, owners of Lakeview Lodge.

"Healthy food is important, especially for the kids," Sue Schoelzel said. "It's a very good cause."

Many area businesses have contributed to the event, providing pallets for firewood, posters, banners and a trailer to collect food in. Now, Haskins is counting on residents to give so others can eat.

"We'll have chili and coffee and hot chocolate" and everyone is welcome, he said. Donations of money and nonperishable food will be accepted all night.

Kids in Nebagamon

Another group is seeking to provide Christmas cheer for children in the Maple School District.

Kids in Nebagamon is collecting food and gifts to distribute to 107 children in 42 families. This is the third year the nonprofit organization has reached out to families school district-wide, although it has been serving the Lake Nebagamon area longer.

"All of us on the KIN board at one time or another have needed help and people were always there to help us," said Kay Coletta, board member. Most of the children and families are recommended by school staff, churches or neighbors, she said.

"It's a huge district. People are sometimes isolated," Coletta said. The Christmas distribution aims to fill needs for more than a day.

"Every family gets a food box; if they're big, two or three," she said. "But it's not just Christmas dinner, it's also something for the next day."

Kids in Nebagamon will be collecting canned and packaged food for distribution through Friday. Needed items include 15-pound turkeys, hams, canned vegetables, cereal, pasta, peanut butter, toilet paper, laundry soap and more. Donations can be dropped off at 11507 E. Waterfront Drive or 7057 Lasch Lane.

KIN also was provided with the names of children who need help with basic needs such as clothes, especially for winter, and other necessities. Their families are experiencing crises such as the illness of a parent or child, unemployment and other unexpected setbacks. Volunteers are needed to adopt a family for the holidays to provide needed clothing and even some special Christmas gifts. KIN is seeking donors as well as volunteers who can shop and be reimbursed by the organization. Individuals, churches and organizations that would like to help make Christmas merry for these kids can contact Kay Coletta, 715-374-2283 or email ccoletta@centurytel.net.

Toy time

Toys are also being collected for Solon Springs children through Operation Rudolph. Last year, the annual distribution provided gifts for 23 children, Schoezel said. Donations are being taken at Lakeview Lodge, 9902 S. County Road A and the Solon Springs branch of the National Bank of Commerce, 9245 E. Main St.

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