For four years, funds raised in memory of a Keyport Lounge employee filled backpacks with food for hungry children in Douglas County. From 2015-2018, the Julie LaPorte Memorial Golf Tournament Fundraiser, put on by Keyport Liquor and Lounge, poured $13,000 into Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank’s BackPack program.
Year number five of the event, held Aug. 11 at the Poplar Golf Course and Keyport, raised a record $7,132 through auctions, raffles, a bean bag tournament, food sales, golf and more. Connie Austin, Keyport Lounge manager and one of the event's organizers, said that was due to community support and a great turnout.
This year’s record amount will be donated to the Superior Public Library Foundation and earmarked for youth area books and programming. A plaque with LaPorte’s name will be placed in the children’s picture book section.
LaPorte worked at Keyport for 18 years before her sudden death at age 38.
“She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a friend to many, many of us here,” Austin said. “She really was a valuable employee here and very well liked.”
Austin worked side-by-side with LaPorte, who ran the kitchen. She described her as sweet and dedicated, someone with a heart for helping children. The fundraiser was created as a way to keep her memory alive, both in Keyport and the community, and to give back.
One of the changes organizers made to this year’s event was to hold weekly meat raffles at Keyport for a month before the golf outing. They were so successful that Austin plans to launch monthly meat raffles for the memorial fundraiser, making it a year-round effort.
During the 2018-2019 school year, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank provided 1,832 weekend bags of food to children in Douglas County through the BackPack program, thanks to donations like the Keyport fundraiser..
“We couldn’t operate our BackPack Program without the support from the Douglas County Community,” said Executive Director Shaye Moris. “We have no local, state or federal allocations of funding and operate as a pure public charity. All donations come from people like you and I.”
It costs about $15 to provide food for one child for a month.
“Donations go a long way,” Moris said.
The program will start up again this fall. Providing weekend backpacks of food is critical in Douglas County, Moris said, where the child food insecurity rate is 17.9 percent. Wisconsin’s state average is 15.4 percent.
Learn more about the program at northernlakesfoodbank.org.