Wausau, WI, December 29, 2016: WSAW NewsChannel 7 and FOX WZAW’s annual “Share Your Holidays” campaign set a new record in 2016. Between donations from viewers and matching grants, $90,942.70 was raised to benefit the food pantries at The Salvation Army of Wausau and The Neighbors’ Place. The previous record of $63,432 was set in 2015. In addition to monetary donations, viewers also donated countless bags of non-perishable food.
“I’m always completely humbled by the generosity that people show,” said Jeff Thelen, WSAW anchor and campaign coordinator. “We can help an awful lot of people with this amount of money.”
This year, for the first time, the event came to a close with a half-hour special on WSAW NewsChannel 7 from 6:30-7 p.m. where the total money raised was announced. The special revealed the food insecurities and needs facing area families and also shared more about the history of “Share Your Holidays” - a campaign founded 14 years ago by WSAW-TV staff. The special also capped off a three hour phone bank where WSAW/WZAW-TV viewers could call in donations on their credit card. The event alone raised $5,500 from 74 donors.
“We know more families are struggling than ever before and we needed to take our annual campaign to a new level to make a difference. We are so appreciative of all who gave so generously. Every donation helped us help local families,” said Jess Laszewski, WSAW/WZAW-TV News Director.
The “Share Your Holidays” campaign kicked off on Dec. 2 as members of the WSAW/WZAW-TV staff walked along the Wausau Holiday Parade, collecting non-perishable food and monetary donations. The following week, nearly $3,400 was raised as staff members braved the cold weather and pumped gas in exchange for monetary donations at a Celebrity Gas Pump. “We want to thank River Valley Bank, Frontier Communications, JX Enterprises and Wagner Shell,” said Al Lancaster, WSAW/WZAW-TV VP/GM. “I’d also like to extend a special thanks to Mary Hesch from Slumberland Furniture. Their donation of $10,000 was the single largest donation from a non-sponsor in Share Your Holidays history.”
With zero overhead cost, a significant portion of “Share Your Holidays” continued success can be attributed our sponsors and WSAW/WZAW-TV staff, who donate their time and resources to help support the campaign.
“I think sometimes people choose our charity because one dollar becomes two dollars thanks to matching grants,” said Jeff Thelen. “Every dollar that was given goes right to helping people.” Matching grants of up to $35,000 came from River Valley Bank, The Dudley Foundation and the Miller-Halvorsen Family.
Thanks to this year’s record-breaking donations, Share Your Holidays has now raised more than $500,000 since its inception.