Groups donate time and materials to repair veteran's homeSubmitted: 11/14/2013
Story By Adam Fox

MINOCQUA - Most Vietnam veterans didn't get a celebratory welcome home.

But a pair of Northwoods groups wanted to show veterans from wars past that they care now.

Veterans like Rich Koch remembers his first time in Vietnam.

"When you first get there you are real scared," Koch said. "You know nobody pays much attention to you because you are the new guy."

Koch felt the same way when he returned a year later from Vietnam in 1970. He flew into O'hare Airport past midnight and was picked up by his wife. He didn't get a hero's welcome.

But Koch knows first hand that people deal with veterans differently these days. Still, he was surprised when a group wanted to repair and remodel his home for free.

"I had no idea what they were going do," Koch said. "They say could we help you out and are there anything that you are planning to do."

An area Home Depot joined forces with the Wausua based Ultimate Sacrifice USA to repair and remodel Koch's home. They started work Thursday.

More than ten volunteers took down old cabinets, pulled up old carpet and removed bathroom fixtures. Home Depot's Jason Kuharske says the home need some work.

"It definitely was needed," Kuharske said. "You could probably live there, but it will be nice to know that they can come to a home instead of just a house."

Home Depot donated around $20,000 in material and labor. They replaced floors, cabinets, vanities and other items in the house.

They worked with Ultimate Sacrifice USA founder Bob Cankar. He used to run a business, but enjoys this more.

"The business can't compare to being able to help a veteran that when they went in they didn't know if they we're going to be coming back," Cankar said.

But Koch did make it back, and now he's getting help from the people he fought for. He believes this is finally his welcome home.

"It's beyond words I can't explain it to you," Koch said. "It's like a miracle."

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MINOCQUA - Every year thousands of kids go hungry. 

On Saturday nearly 600 volunteers from the Northwoods decided to help feed some of those children. 

The "Food for Kidz" organization, invited people to Lakeland Union High School, to help package non- perishable goods.

 The packages will be donated worldwide and to nearby food pantries.

Within the past eight years volunteers have packaged one million meals.

 Last year was the first year the organization started donating to local food pantries. 

This year volunteers will give 30,000 meals to the Northwoods community.

"It's just the recurring exuberance of the people that come in and do the packing we have many, repeat people that come year after year," said "Food for Kidz" Co-chairman John Breiten. 

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MINOCQUA - By the time most of us finish breakfast, we already start planning what to eat for lunch.

For some kids all around the world, that next meal sometimes never comes.

The Food for Kidz Minocqua committee will lend a helping hand to change that Saturday morning.

Lakeland Union High School's common area will transform into a full-blown assembly line.

Food for Kidz volunteers will pour and pack ingredients into plastic bags.

The goal is 175,000 packed meals.

Food for Kidz needs more volunteers by tomorrow to meet that goal.

"If you haven't experienced this, come out and try it and you'll go away with just a great feeling," said Food for Kidz co-chair John Breiten.

Kids and adults of all ages are welcome to walk in to volunteer.

The food packages will be shipped off to anywhere from Honduras to Mozambique.

Some special meals will be set aside and sent to local communities in the Northwoods.

"It's just a great, fun community event. I think the kids especially take something away that they are giving beyond themselves," said Food for Kidz sponsor and Lakeland Union High School Spanish teacher Karen Roerich.

Walk-in volunteers are welcome to attend either packing shift tomorrow morning.

The first shift is from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. The second shift is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

If you can't make it out to Lakeland Union High School Saturday, donations are always welcome.

Call John Breiten at 715-686-7570 for more info.

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"You can't think too far ahead, at least that's the situation I find myself in," John said.

Convicted of drunk driving seven times, John -- who Newswatch 12 is only identifying by his first name -- faced a harsh reality when he ended up in prison after three arrests in just 13 months.

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But they were pinned to a number 8 seed, the lowest in the bracket, and travel to face top-seeded Rice Lake in a Division 3 Level 1 game Friday night.

Recent history doesn't favor Merrill in the playoffs. It has lost six straight playoff openers, dating to 2009.

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The Journal Sentinel reported the videos show activist Scott Foval bragging about disrupting a Walker rally in Iowa. Those videos were released by conservative activist James O'Keefe.

Foval talks about bringing people out of state into Wisconsin, but doesn't give a reason why.

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the systems known as manure digesters also help farms manage waste, which has become an increasingly controversial issue in Wisconsin as the size of dairy farms grows.

Wisconsin Public Service Commission officials say they're considering spending $10 million to $20 million on manure digester technology.

The commission also voted Thursday to authorize at least $7.7 million in funding for rebates for solar, wind and geothermal projects around the state that would keep a rebate program in place for energy consumers.

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