Burlington area comes through with $47,000 for displaced workers in first month
By Jennifer Eisenbart
In the weeks since Echo Lake Foods saw a major fire damage about 70 percent of the company, the support of the Burlington community has come pouring in.
Love Inc. Executive Director Bill Schoessling was busy this week receiving money from a number of different sources – all of which still had to be added to the $47,000 total that had been raised over the last month.
“It’s unbelievable,” Schoessling said. “It’s absolutely unbelievable. They’re treating these folks like real human beings, and helping their fellow neighbor.”
Two separate projects that still had to be added into the total this week amounted to another $12,000 in donations.
Leading the way this week was a combined effort by United Way and Echo Lake Foods itself. Through its Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day magic show fundraiser, United Way raised more than $10,000.
United Way, in turn, agreed to match up to $5,000 any donation the company made. However, based on the success of the magic show, Colleen Benkendorf – the Western Racine County United Way manager – decided the organization would donate $5,500.
The money is going directly to Love Inc., along with $5,000 from Echo Lake Foods, for a total of $10,500 to help employees with basic needs.
Marci Drenzek, the human resources director at Echo Lake Foods, said she was “just amazed” at the generosity of the community.
“It really is great to see everyone pull together,” she said.
Benkendorf said that, with the Valentine’s Day event already planned, it proved to be the perfect outlet to donate funds.
“It allowed us to react quickly,” Benkendorf said.
Adults weren’t the only ones adding to the numbers. At the Feb. 15 Burlington vs. Wilmot boys basketball game at BHS, senior Jake Reetz decided to hold a “Change 4 Change drive” at the game.
With both teams expected to have a large fan base at the game, Reetz knew the time was right, and turned the fundraiser into his DRIVEN senior service project.
It turned out that Reetz’s instincts were right. With many people donating more than just their spare change – some brought in rolls of quarters, while others seeded the pot with dollar bills – the drive raised about $1,100.
Combined with about $400 in money raised through a carnation sale on Valentine’s Day – organized by fellow DRIVEN students Jayden Essman and Riley Hornickle – the students were able to donate $1,500 to Love Inc.
Essman and Hornickle organized the carnation sale on short notice, getting flowers at a large discount from Pick ‘n Save and also donations of flowers from Gia Bella.
“It was a very last-minute thing,” Hornickle said. “Once we got the idea, we just rolled with it.”
Essman said the idea worked out much better than they thought it might.
“You never know if high schoolers will bring their money, or remember to bring their money,” he said. “But everyone bought into it.”
Schoessling added Tuesday that the fundraising hasn’t ended by any means.
“There is a lot of money out there that’s pledged that we haven’t seen, but we are confident it’s coming in,” he said.