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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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February 3, 2023

Warm for Winter organizers include, front, from left, Jan Leschke and Gale Willcox, and back, Darla Jansen, Carla Chropkowski and Jim Jansen. They are gearing up for the next giveway event on Saturday, Jan. 28 and hope everyone spreads the word. (Submitted photo)
Warm for Winter organizers include, front, from left, Jan Leschke and Gale Willcox, and back, Darla Jansen, Carla Chropkowski and Jim Jansen. They are gearing up for the next giveway event on Saturday, Jan. 28 and hope everyone spreads the word. (Submitted photo)
1/24/2023 5:28:00 AM
Warm for Winter founders to turn over operation to longtime volunteers
Next giveaway set for Jan. 28

Another Warm for Winter giveaway is set for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 28 at Friendly Village, 900 Boyce Drive in Rhinelander. A huge variety of clothing, bedding, coats, boots and accessories are free for the taking, no questions asked, organizers said in a press release. Everyone is welcome.

For 14 years, the Warm for Winter program has successfully collected and distributed free warm items thanks to founders Gale Willcox and Jan Leschke.

It began small, with the two women gathering items, cleaning, organizing and repairing when necessary.

"The idea was not only to help those in need, but to recycle good things and keep them out of the landfill," said Willcox.

The response was overwhelming, and soon they had more donations, more volunteers to help, more customers and a permanent location at Friendly Village in Rhinelander.

Now the two Rhinelander women are turning over leadership to Carla Chropkowski and Darla and Jim Jansen.

Stepping up to take over the program wasn't a hard decision for the three, who have been helping out through the years along with many dozens of dedicated volunteers.

"We've always had a lot of help and donations from all over, not just locally," Leschke said. "We feel Warm for Winter will be in good hands and continue to serve everyone."

This year, WFW has received help from local businesses that have enabled the program to purchase brand new items to give away, according to Jim Jansen. "We are grateful to the Chamber of Commerce, Northland Insurance and YMCA for their contributions," he said.

"We hope to get the word out that we have great new stuff to choose from."

A surprising variety of customers enjoy the monthly giveaways, including young families, residents stocking up on warm clothing for visitors from warmer climates, and teachers collecting a few hats and mittens for their students' use at recess.

Happy customers are the pay-off for the Warm for Winter workers.

"We love to see these items get new homes," noted Darla Jansen. "We're also happy to accept contributions from anyone who wants to help out the program."

For more information, call Darla at 608-345-7305.



Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Article comment by: James Carlson

What a wonderful commitment to the Rhinelander area. Many thanks for the unselfish dedication to provide a measure of comfort for those in need.
Thank you Gale and Jan.




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