ANTIGO - This month we're looking at hunger in the Northwoods. We've brought you the stories of dedicated volunteers and programs that bring thousands of pounds of food to families in need. This week we're focusing on WHO benefits from hunger relief in the Northwoods.
It's not easy to find someone willing to talk about their struggle with hunger. Thankfully Helen Adair of Antigo shares her time helping the food pantry, and she was willing share her story as well.
Helen knows too well what it's like to go hungry. As a child in Scotland during the Second World War rations were slim and hunger was inescapable.
"You get knots in your stomach," Helen said, "And my mother used to say, 'Drink some water. Drink some water' so there was something in our stomachs."
In 2013, in the United States, we don't live in war-time. Still, hunger is here too.
"It shouldn't be. This is America. Everyone should have plenty to eat," says Helen, "You know? It shouldn't be- but it's here."
Today Helen's need for food is much less severe. Even so, for her and many families in the Northwoods, a limited income forces tough choices.
"The money is gone and you need products. You need toilet paper, laundry soap..."
As Helen puts is, 'We all need to eat', and everything else has to wait. Hygiene and medication fall to the side, but a food pantry puts those back on the shelf. It gives families a little breathing room. Donna Rus knows just how much that means.
"They will give us a hug, 'thank you so much, oh my child will really like this... We haven't had oranges or apples for a really long time'," said Donna, the President of the Steering Committee that runs the Antigo Area Food pantry, quoting some of their patrons. "Some of the small children will take an apple, and before we can even wash it, they'll bite into it. So they are delighted."
How in the world do people struggle for food in the wealthiest nation in the world? Divorce, lay-offs, hours being cut, elderly grandparents caring for children- these are the realities that Donna see bringing people in to their food pantry- Things that could happen to anyone.
"Just last week we had a member of a family register with us and said ĎI'm so embarrassed, I never thought it would come to this'."
For that family and nearly 400 more, the Antigo Area Food Pantry is there to take some of the bite out of hunger.
The Antigo Area food pantry has only been open since May. They formed when local church food pantries combined to better serve the community.
MADISON - A $3 billion tax break bill for Taiwan-based electronics giant Foxconn Technology Group is poised to pass the Wisconsin Assembly on a bipartisan vote.
Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason said during debate Thursday that he intends to vote for the bill. He is the first Democrat to publicly say he will back the measure that is being championed by Gov. Scott Walker and fellow Republicans.
RHINELANDER - Cancer survivors and supporters gathered at Ministry St. Mary's Hospital for the 10th annual Celebration of Life Thursday. The event honors those battling cancer or survivors of cancer and shows people what kinds of services the James Beck Cancer Center offers.
The center's namesake lost his life to cancer, but now others will be able to benefit from his gift to the hospital.
"With his vision and his dollars we were able to put this cancer center here in Rhinelander so patients don't have to travel to larger cities," said Director of Cancer Services Kimberly Hetland.
This year's speaker was Mike Regole, a survivor of tonsil cancer. He spoke about his experience at the center, how family and support affected his journey, and how he ran a business while having cancer.
LAC DU FLAMBEAU - On a busy stretch of Highway 47 near Lac du Flambeau -- where hundreds of wheels spin at 55 miles-per-hour each day -- just one tire drags at a slower pace, pulled by one man: the Tire Man.
"I guess I'm the only one nutty enough to do it, I suppose," Frank Tarantino said with a laugh.
Tarantino lives in Mercer, but trains for marathons in Lac du Flambeau. ¬†He started pulling a tire on a chain a few years ago after reading about it in a fitness magazine. ¬†People often stop to take his picture.
"Little by little you run a little further, a little further," Tarantino said.
SAYNER - A needle and thread means more to Pat Andersen than just sewing.
"I started quilting when I was 19 so it's been a passion of mine for a long time," said Pat.
Quilting gives her a community of ladies in the Northwoods.
"Sayner needs something like this, it needs something for the women to do," said Pat.
After moving to Sayner with her husband Don last spring, the two decided to buy the building that now houses Plum Lake Quilts. Pat needed somewhere to put her long arm machine and that eventually turned into a little retail business.
"I mean little and then it grew a little bit and it grew a little bit more," said Don Andersen.
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