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Extra food drives add to success of La Crosse’s Rotary Lights



La Crosse’s Rotary Lights display has collected over 5 million items of food for local pantries in 28 years, and their collections have become even broader this holiday season. 

The Rotary joined with Great Rivers United Way to set up external food collections through the area this year, carried out by 26 businesses and groups, and those donations are now being added to the food total. 

Food donations are now available at the Rotary warehouse for area food pantries to pick up.

Anne Paape from the United Way says this is another way for Coulee Region residents to show their generosity.

“Forty-three community food drive locations popped up all over our area,” says Paape, who points out that many collections will continue over the next few weeks.

“Community residents, as they always do, responded to our call for help, and it’s been a wonderful success story, and it says a lot about the huge heart that this community has when it comes to helping others,” she says.

Rotary Lights president Pat Stephens says some area food pantries which did not get their own special nights at the light display this year are now picking up food from all the collections. A group from the Cashton Cupboard loaded a van with food donations on Thursday.

“It allows us to give people a generous amount of food,” says Virginia Von Ruden of the Cashton Cupboard. “With these non-perishable (items), we can also add then dairy products, meat, and so forth.”

Meanwhile, donations will still be accepted at Riverside Park, where Rotary Lights continues nightly through Saturday, New Year’s Eve. The light displays in Riverside Park for 2022 have been on every night since November 25th.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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