The Volunteer Spirit

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My family and I searched for a venue where we could physically volunteer on Christmas Day in order to bring happiness to others. Obviously we aren’t alone in the spirit of giving as many of the volunteer opportunities in the Fox Valley were full- of volunteers.

Luckily, we found an opportunity to volunteer, although we didn’t get to do much besides deliver meals to 4 homes. I was able to talk to a few people who took advantage of the free homemade meals. The gratitude for both the free hot holiday meal and a few minutes of friendly conversation showed on their faces. While we welcomed the small opportunity to help others, it was really the story of how Ed Rathsack and his brother started the We Care Meals Group in Appleton, that touched my heart.

I spoke to Ed Rathsack at length on Christmas Day about how the We Care Meals served on Christmas and Easter came about. Over 30 years ago Ed and his brother were returning home after a family Christmas gathering where the table and their stomachs were filled with holiday food, spirits, and love from spending time with family and friends. As they listened to the radio they were distraught to hear of 4 suicides committed right here in the Fox Valley due to loneliness and depression during the holidays. These two men vowed to make a difference.And what a difference they have made. The original We Care Meals were started by Ed and his brother, a chef in the Fox Valley Tech Culinary program. While the We Care Meals Program has expanded and evolved over the last 30 years, it only exists due to donations, grants, and the many volunteer hands and hearts. Manderfield’s Bakery, Van de Walles, and the Outagamie County Sheriff’s department are some of the businesses and organizations that volunteer food, time,and money to make We Care Meals in the Fox Cities a success.

We Care Meals provides both home delivery and the opportunity to share a communal meal complete with live music and gifts for the young ones.This year the meal took place at the beautiful Riverside Gardens. You don’t need to explain yourself to partake in a meal or to have one delivered, We Care Meals are open for all in the community. We Care Meals also provides an opportunity for others to give. It warmed my heart to see families with young children volunteering right alongside everyone else. I hope to have the opportunity to volunteer again but in the meantime Ed Rathsack and his crew are already accepting donations for the next We Care Meal to take place on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. Please call 920-731-7867 to make a donation.You may also contact the United Way of the Fox Cities.

Thank you Ed- The Giving Grandpa!

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