What was off is on again

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | March 25, 2015

There wasn’t going to be a free meal — at least not this Easter in Appleton.

In The Compass (3/27/15) print edition, you’ll find the annual list of free Easter Sunday meals offered by local churches and community groups. One is missing.

For the 15 years that I have posted these Easter meals, there has always been one offered by a group called “We Care Meals” in Appleton. (They also offer a Christmas meal and have been doing so for 25 years.) Nearly 2,000 people have enjoyed food and companionship on each of these two holidays, thanks to We Care Meals.

Each year, I call Ed Rathsack, who organizes these meals, to get information. And, in the past few years, Ed has confided about how hard it has been to get enough money together for the meals. He always has enough volunteers and a place to host it — though they had to switch the Christmas site this past year, when their longtime site was sold. But the money has been tight, especially of late. When I called this year, Ed told me that “with a heavy heart,” he “just couldn’t pull it off this year.” I know, in the past, that Ed has taken personal loans to pay for the meals. And, as he told me this year, his family has even given up vacations on five different occasions, to cover meal costs.

Now, however, thanks to generous donors who heard about the cancellation of the Appleton Easter meal in other media over the past weekend, We Care Meals will go on. I called Ed again (March 25) and he told me, “It is unbelievable, the people who have stepped forward.”

It was hard for Ed to go before the camera and explain that the meal was cancelled. He got teary-eyed talking with me last week, when he thought about all the people who might not have their Easter dinner this year. Now, tears have turned to joy. It’s amazing what a little faith can do.

You can find the details about the Appleton dinner and the other local free meals being offered at our website link.

Ed is already focusing on preparations for the 2015 Christmas meal — “bigger and better than ever.” He has been offered a new and larger site to host the meal. All the donations he receives now will go toward that meal. If you feel inclined to donate, do so to N2691 State Road 47, Appleton, WI 54915, made out to “We Care Meals.” Volunteers are needed to deliver and serve meals and for meal preparation. Call Ed on that, too.

(And don’t forget to offer help to the other meal providers on our list.)

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