TOMAHAWK - Box after box came off John Olson's pickup truck Monday morning.
"It's just, we love to give," Olson said after he unloaded dozens of boxes.
The Calvary Baptist Church treasurer and his wife drove from Rhinelander to Tomahawk to deliver 143 shoe boxes for "Operation Christmas Child."
"Just put them all in, loaded them up, and here we are," Olson said.
The boxes are loaded with school supplies, toys, and hygiene items for children overseas. Calvary Baptist started collecting them in October with a goal of 90 boxes. By last weekend the church had stockpiled more than 100.
"It was so touching and heartwarming to know that our church alone is going to be able to touch 143 lives is just amazing," Olson said.
"This was a total surprise that they came, and we just call it a God thing," said Northwoods Vineyard Church member Bunny Komarek.
Northwoods Vineyard Church has served as a collection point for the nationwide program for the last three years. Every fall, the church holds a packing party, this year stuffing more than 300 boxes of its own.
"I don't think there's an inch left by the time we get done," Komarek said.
Northwoods Vineyard saw a slight drop in donations in the last few years, down from about 1,100 to around 950 in 2016, but the church hopes to pack a total of 1,000 boxes to send off in 2017. It's a lesson in offering these Northwoods churches hope children here grab onto.
"So many kids are always looking to get at Christmas," Komarek said. "This teaches these precious little kids to give."
Northwoods Vineyard will keep collecting boxes for another week. They'll then send the boxes to a distribution center in Minnesota. No matter how many more come in, John Olson knows the Northwoods is making a difference across the world.
"It's important to spread the name of Jesus," Olson said. "It's important to spread the gospel, and that's how we do it--through one box."
It costs $9 to ship each box. Northwoods Vineyard is taking donations of boxes, items, and money until Monday morning, November 20. Operation Christmas Child hopes to ship 12 million boxes collected nationwide this year.
The church is located at 418 Kaphaem Road just off Highway 86 in Tomahawk. You can visit the website below for more information.
RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander Salvation Army hopes to raise $40,000 in its bell ringing campaign again this year. It reached that goal during the holidays a year ago.
Volunteers kicked off the bell ringing drive at Trig's and Shopko on Friday. Eighty-six percent of money raised stays in the Rhinelander area to help families in emergencies.
"We're very excited that we're keeping our goal at 40 (thousand dollars) this year, and we're hoping that people are continuing to be generous in helping us reach that goal," Rhinelander Salvation Army Kettle Coordinator Kim Swisher said. "People are friendly, they're excited, they're like, 'Oh, it's bell ringing time!' [That] always means the holidays. We're excited about that."
You'll see volunteers at Trig's and Shopko through the holidays. Bell ringing starts at Walmart next week.
UPDATE: The suspected shooter from a homicide in Tomahawk has been identified as Eric Lee Moen, 32. Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins confirmed Moen is being held in the Lincoln County Jail for a 1st-degree intentional homicide charge.
The Lincoln County Clerk of Courts reports Moen is being held on a $1 million cash bond. He has yet to appear in court, but an initial appearance has been set for Monday at 1:30 p.m.
Online court records show Moen was convicted of various traffic offenses. He was also convicted of misdemeanor battery in Portage County from a 2002 case.
Elvins plans to release more information Friday afternoon.
Tomahawk police identified the victim in the city's first shooting homicide in years. Friday morning, Police Chief Al Elvins announced Charles K. Ramp, 52, was shot and killed outside his home on W. Mohawk Drive Thursday night.
Police arrested the suspected shooter, a 32-year-old man from Wausau, but did not identify him. The suspect was found about 130 miles away in Lake Hallie, which is near Eau Claire.
EAGLE RIVER - Americans eat more than 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day. That much thawing, handling, and cooking of turkeys means people can make mistakes.
The Vilas County Public Health Department wants to help people avoid exposing themselves to dangerous bacteria. It says frozen turkeys should always be thawed in the refrigerator or under running water.
"You don't want to set them out on your countertop for any amount of time to thaw them because that's when they're going to be in the 'danger zone.' The 'danger zone' is between 40 and 140 [degrees Fahrenheit], and that's when pathogens can grow," said Vilas County Registered Sanitarian Amy Springer.
RHINELANDER - Snow plows can't do their job very well when cars sit in their way. That's why Rhinelander's winter parking ban will return in just a couple of weeks.
Starting December 1st, cars can only park on designated sides of the street during the day. On even-numbered days, cars park on the side of the street with even addresses. On odd numbered days, cars must park on odd-numbered sides of the street.
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