Wausau, WI, December 21, 2017: WSAW NewsChannel 7 and FOX WZAW’s annual “Share Your Holidays” campaign has set a new record. Between donations from viewers and matching grants, $95,811.49 was raised to benefit the food pantries at The Salvation Army of Wausau and The Neighbors’ Place. The previous record of $90,942.72 was set in 2016. In addition to monetary donations, viewers also donated hundreds of pounds of non-perishable food.
“Overwhelmed, blown away, touched,” said Jeff Thelen, WSAW anchor and campaign coordinator. “I should say I’m surprised but I’m not because it’s been nothing but generosity from the start of this effort 15 years ago.
The campaign came to a close with a half-hour special simulcast on WSAW NewsChannel 7 and FOX WZAW 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 15 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 phone bank alone raised more than $10,000.
“Each year, we are overwhelmed by the community’s willingness to pick up the phone and open their checkbooks,” said Sarah Gray, WSAW/WZAW-TV News Director. “The volunteers who answer those phones hear so many stories about love, loss and holiday spirit. We are always so uplifted by the heartfelt reasons community members decide to donate.”
The “Share Your Holidays” campaign kicked off on Dec. 1 as members of the WSAW/WZAW-TV staff walked along the Wausau Holiday Parade, collecting non-perishable food and monetary donations. The following week, more than $3,500 was raised as staff members braved the cold weather and pumped gas in exchange for monetary donations at a Celebrity Gas Pump.
With zero overhead cost, a significant portion of “Share Your Holidays” continued success can be attributed its sponsors: River Valley Bank, JX Enterprises and Wagner Shell. WSAW/WZAW-TV staff also play a large role, donating their time and resources to help support the campaign. Station staff helped raise nearly $3,000 themselves.
“Share Your Holidays truly is a station wide effort. It’s so encouraging to see our entire staff share their time, energy and talents because eliminating hunger in the Wausau area is a cause they believe in.”
“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.
“The community response to our Share Your Holidays fundraiser is very humbling, “said Al Lancaster, WSAW/WZAW VP/GM. “We are very blessed to live in such a special place. Thank you!”
Thanks to this year’s record-breaking donations, Share Your Holidays has now raised more than $600.000 since its inception.