When the pandemic began in 2020 and hygiene supplies were exceptionally limited, the Waushara County Dept. of Human Services identified a need to provide curbside pick up of essential infant care items along with food and other resources it mobilized to offer community members.
“Waushara County is a rural community in Central Wisconsin. There are no ‘big box’ discount stores available for the affordable purchase of infant diapers/wipes,” said Jan Novak, Waushara County Dept. Human Services. “Transportation creates a barrier for many of our local residents who would need to travel more than 50 miles to make these purchases.”
Jake’s and the Waushara County Health Department teamed up to open The Waushara County Diaper Pantry in April 2020. Since that time, there have been over 725 pantry visits and a total of 60,800 diapers have been distributed to families in need.
“Parents who receive this assistance are extremely thankful. It helps them manage household expenses and provide necessary supplies to appropriately care for their infant/toddler diapering needs.”
As Jake’s continues to expand its reach in the community, we’re excited by the network of partners coming out of the woodwork - and all the great work we can do together.
Our partners are 501c3 nonprofits, faith-based or school-based organizations serving individuals in need because of a variety of circumstances, from financial struggles to foster care, cancer patients and more.
“Jake’s is a wonderful opportunity to expand the impact we make because it’s one-stop shopping at 20% of retail or even less,” said Deb, of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, and an active community partner. “We’ve actually encouraged our people to give money instead, because we’ve got people who will do shopping (for donated goods). There’s just so many opportunities.”
Over the holiday break, when Oshkosh School District Food service was closed, their program fed children at several locations within the district and during the last they distributed shoes, underwear, socks and hygiene products from Jakes.
“What fun it was to see the children so thrilled to receive such beautiful, NEW items,” Deb said.
Other examples of Oshkosh area churches that partnered to serve the community include:
First Presbyterian Church in Oshkosh: Stocked personal care items, hygiene items, mittens, hats, socks all purchased from Jake’s.
St. Andrews Lutheran - Oshkosh:Hosted a children’s fair to give out toys, provided books to literacy groups.
First English Lutheran - Oshkosh:Sourced items such as coats, books - feed hungry kids in the summer and we did a toy give away - we had the games that we gave.
“Thank you for what you do,” said Patricia of First Presbyterian Church, “so we can do what we do.”
As kids went back to school and colder temperatures snuck in, Community Clothes Closet of Menasha noticed an increased demand for clothing and personal care products. Inventory was turning quickly, and the nonprofit wanted to do more to fulfill its mission of free clothing to all people in need.
At Jake’s Network of Hope, our warehouse is often overflowing with items like these! We were quick to partner with Community Closet as the organization launched its Traveling Closet to reach more children who need adequate apparel and bedding.
“Jake's Network of Hope has been instrumental in sourcing high-priority need items like bras, large-sized clothing, athletic shoes and children's apparel,” said Executive Director Lisa Jones. In fact, Community Closet sourced 7,457 items from Jake’s, including socks, underwear, sports bras, hoodies, Nike shoes, blankets, bedsheets, pillowcases, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, hairbrushes, sanitizing wipes, toilet paper, paper towel, hand sanitizer, and mouthwash.
“Clothing can open the door to a better future,” Lisa said, “When kids have the clothing they need, they are safe from the Wisconsin weather, more self-confident and participate more in the classroom."
The Traveling Closet made its debut on October 13 at the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh, in partnership with the Oshkosh Area School District. Children pre-registered for the event, and nearly 1,500 items left the truck to students. The truck will be available for monthly distributions, with November’s truckload focused on winter gear, from snow pants to winter coats, winter boots and gloves for elementary-aged children.
Community Closet accessed many of these goods through Jake’s My Neighbor program, which provides essential daily living items to qualified partners - nonprofits, school- or faith-based organizations, for sharing fees that cost a fraction of retail value. January through October this year, we've distributed 56,820 daily essential living items to partners, who then share with people participating in their programs.
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