Tourism groups ready to accept warm clothing donations for Big Bundle Up programSubmitted: 11/30/2015
MERRILL - With the season of giving upon us, many will be looking for ways to help out those who are in need this winter.

This year, you will only have to go as far as your closet to help families living in the Northwoods.

Tourism groups across the state will be accepting coats, sweaters, hats, mittens, and other warm clothing for the "Big Bundle Up Campaign."

The Chambers of Commerce in Merrill and Rhinelander will be participating in the program again this year.

All of the collected items stay in the community where they are donated.

The Merrill Area Chamber waits to decide where the items will go until they see what has been donated.

"We have the opportunity to talk to the different organizations and see what their needs are when we're dispersing the goods, and that was really what pulled us in in the beginning, and that's actually what keeps us doing it from year to year," said Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Debbe Kinsey.

This is the fifth year of the charity drive.

The statewide program has collected more than 49,000 items for families in need so far.

Though the Merrill Chamber doesn't have a set goal, they always hope to get more items than the year before.

"Last year we brought in over a thousand pieces, and that number just goes up a couple hundred every year, so we were very thrilled last year to get that many pieces, and of course we're hoping to top that," said Kinsey.

The collection program starts Monday and goes until January 3rd.

To find a drop off location near you, click on the link below.

Related Weblinks:
The Big Bundle Up Campaign

Story By: Anthony DaBruzzi

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PARK FALLS - Many people in the Northwoods go to church on Sunday mornings, and for some of them it may be begrudgingly.

But there are plenty of people, often elderly or sick, who want to go to church but have a hard time doing so.

Peace Lutheran Church in Park Falls wanted to change that. Since May, they've been undergoing some construction. On Sunday, the church had a dedication ceremony for a special new addition—an elevator.

Now people like 100-year-old Ruth Olson can worship with greater ease.

Before the elevator, Olson said she would get to church by literally pulling herself up the stairs using the railing.

Olson's story is like many. As the older population grows, church buildings don't evolve with them. The buildings are often old and sometimes lack accomodating features for the elderly or disabled, and takes money to update the buildings.

"We have churches where the people are getting older and it's very hard for people to get around," said Rev. Dwayne Lueck, the district president for the North Wisconsin District Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

Some parishoners couldn't do what Ruth used to do, and so they would have to worship at a service held across the street in the day care center, instead of in the beautiful church.

"Now all the services can be over here," said Rev. Dale Heinlein, the pastor of Peace Lutheran.

The congregation at Peace Lutheran believed in an elevator, so they paid for it.

"We been talking and planning this for...a long time," said Dick Ross, president of the congregation. "Pretty hard for some of the people, and I think you saw them, pretty hard for some of the people to worship here, so it was time."

"You can see it in their eyes more than anything when they know they have access and when they come up here and just enter the building and no steps, it's a great thing," said Buzz Peters, a parishoner who helped design the new elevator and space.

"We can finally have access for everybody to get into the worship facility, free access, that's what this is all about," Heinlein said. 

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WOODRUFF - If they haven't already, people will start bringing out the Christmas decorations.

And it wouldn't be complete without that perfect Christmas tree.

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MINOCQUA - It's that time of year again.

Minocqua kicked off its' Christmas celebrations Saturday.

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MINOCQUA - With only 27 days until Christmas, people filled the stores this weekend to start checking names off their gift list.

But where are people buying their gifts from?

Small business owners in Minocqua were pleasantly surprised this Friday.

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Wisconsin just finished it's deadliest hunting season in years.

The latest death happened near Spencer in Marathon County.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office was called to a wooded area northeast of Spencer around 9:15 Sunday night.

We don't yet know the name of the 50-year-old man who was shot and killed.

Marathon County sheriff's deputies and the Wisconsin DNR are currently investigating the death.

Two other people died after hunting related accidents this year.

Four other hunters got hurt

A man was killed last Sunday in Columbia County while passing a loaded rifle to a friend in a tree stand.

The friend grabbed the gun near the trigger and it went off, shooting the man.

LAST Monday, a hunter in Waushara County was killed by a stray bullet.

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MADISON - Two Republican legislators have created a bill that would shift federal road dollars from local projects to major state projects. Opponents say the bill is a backdoor attempt to make sure federal prevailing wage requirements don't apply to local projects.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Rob Brooks would transfer $47 million in federal funding from local projects to state projects and move $47 million in state dollars from state projects to local ones.

Stroebel says the swap would save money by removing local projects from burdensome federal regulations.

He has been a vocal advocate for doing away with prevailing wage statutes, which require minimum salaries for workers on government-funded construction projects.

Spokeswomen for GOP legislative leaders didn't respond to inquiries about the bill's chances.

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MADISON - New state data show that nearly 15,000 Wisconsin residents lost access to food stamps in the first three months of a new law that requires some recipients to seek jobs.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1Ple8j5 ) it obtained the data from the Department of Human Services under the state open records law.

The rule took effect in April for participants in the state's food stamp program, FoodShare. It requires able-bodied adults without children living at home to work at least 80 hours a month or look for work to stay in the program.

The DHS data show about 25 percent of the 60,000 recipients eligible to work were dropped from the program between July and September. But about 4,500 found work through a new job training program for FoodShare recipients.

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MOUNT HOREB - A southern Wisconsin school district has cancelled plans for elementary school students to read a children's book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue.

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