The second annual Cash for Kids, a Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. (FORK) fundraising program, is a collaborative effort of all Eagle River financial institutions to support children from food insecure homes within the community.

“The idea is simple,” said Karen Klager, branch manager for the BMO Harris bank location in Eagle River. “By all our local financial institutions working together, we amplify the message that there are local children in need of nutritional support. BMO Harris is involved because we want to be there for our local kids.”

“Since the creation of Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. we have identified numerous gaps within the support system provided to children from food insecure homes,” explained FORK Director Keith Kentala. “Currently, FORK manages five programs to shore up the support matrix offered within our community to children from food insecure homes.”

Following is a brief description of those FORK programs that will be supported by this Cash for Kids fundraiser:

• Formula Support Program — This program provides a one-time emergency grant of baby formula to families who run short from their Women Infants and Children (WIC) allocation. The program is funded by FORK and administered in partnership with the Vilas County Health Department.

• Meals Now — This program provides emergency nutritional support to children from families with fast changing levels of food security. Examples of life changing instances may be divorce, loss of job, family illness, loss of housing, etc. The program is managed and funded by FORK.

• FORK Cares — This program provides nutritional support to children during times when traditional food support is not available to them through their school setting, such as summer, winter and spring vacation periods from school. 

• Jump Start — This  program provides additional fruits and vegetables to children, birth to 4 years of age, from families that qualify for federal  WIC benefits. The program is funded by FORK and administered by the Vilas County Health Department.

• Children’s Pantry — This new program will roll out to the community at the start of the 2021-’22 school year. Children’s Pantries will encourage people to “take what they need and give what they can.” The four initial panties will be in the Eagle River, Land O’ Lakes, St. Germain and Phelps elementary school buildings.



Fundraising goal

The goal for the month-long program is for each financial institution to raise $3,550, or the equivalent of 1,000 meals for local children, according Melissa Hopkins, market manager for Incredible Bank. 

“We are confident that this community will rise to this challenge,” said Hopkins.

“I am personally proud of the leaders of each of the Eagle River financial institutions. I credit them for stepping forward in support of the Cash for Kids fundraiser,” added Tori Dunlap, branch manager at Peoples State Bank. “At Peoples, we are confident that our customers will embrace this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children within our community.” 

Kelly Skarbek, mortgage lender at Great North Bank, said, “At the Great North Bank, we see the value of each of these individual programs in support of our children. I urge the community to please help in this communitywide effort.” 

“This collaborative effort of all the Eagle River financial institutions to help feed kids is an amazing testament to the value of all these institutions within our community,” added Kentala. 

The fundraiser runs until Aug. 31.

Individuals can make donations during business hours at any of the Eagle River financial institutions. People also can 

donate online at feedourruralkids.org/cashforkids. Checks can be mailed to Cash for Kids, 4887 Echo Ridge Dr., Eagle River, WI 54521. 

FORK is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.