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home : community : community news May 24, 2016

8/18/2014 7:30:00 AM
Rhinelander Toyota to donate $5,000 to local non-profit organization

Kayla Breese
Feature Writer

The community will chose which of several non-profit organizations will receive the Rhinelander Toyota Community Chance Giveaway - a $5,000 donation.

The organizations eligible to receive the donation are Hodag Water Shows, Kids In Need, Redeemer Learning Center in Tomahawk, Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault - Lily's House.

Shellie Holmes, executive director of the Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, found out via text message that her organization is in the running.

She said she is "very, very excited" about the opportunity. If Tri-County is chosen, the $5,000 will be used to build a new shelter, she said.

"On the one hand I say 'everybody please, please vote for us' and I know that people will but everybody has a lot of interests in their lives and so whatever it is it will be the right thing (and) it will turn out well. We hope that we are blessed at Lily's House to have this boost to our capital campaign," Holmes said. "I wish everybody good luck."

Those at Kids In Need are equally excited to be in contention for the prize.

Officials there said the money would be used to add a part-time employee. The money would also be used for food and other supplies.

"We're real appreciative of Rhinelander Toyota making this contest available," said Tammy Ellis, program director of Kids In Need.

At the Redeemer Learning Center the staff was over the moon when they heard the news.

"We were very excited and staff was emailing each other and Facebooking each other and texting each other and we were all very excited," said Mary Epinski, office assistant at Redeemer Learning Center.

The center would use the donation as a "nest egg" to get an infant and toddler program going.

"We're extremely excited, it means a lot because we would like to expand and to get our infant and toddler center going to help our community," Epinski said.

Hodag Water Shows was pleasantly surprised to be included in the contest.

"We're happy to be noticed by the town as a positive nonprofit in the city," said Grant Olson, president of Hodag Water Shows.

The club plans to build a new shed at Hodag Park for their 15-20 junior members and 30 senior members.

"We've had the same shed for about 30 years and it's a strong wind away from falling over," Olson said. "The plan is to start building (the new shed) next fall."

Voting starts between 3 and 5 p.m. Aug. 20 and ends at 5 p.m. Sept. 3.

Photos of each nonprofit will be placed on Rhinelander Toyota's Facebook page.

People will vote for the organization they feel deserves the money by "liking" their photo. In the event of a tie, the winner will be based on the number of "shares" they have received.

"Everybody can have just one 'like' but if they are on Facebook then they can 'share' and that's how it will grow exponentially," Holmes said.

This is the first time Rhinelander Toyota has allowed the community to decide the contest. Depending on the response, they may do it again.

"We're really proud and really honored to be able to work with the community and to have allowed the community to make this choice," said Jo Hettwer, digital marketing at Rhinelander Toyota.

"We want to help a business in the community and a $5,000 donation can be life-changing for an organization," Hettwer added.

When the names came in and the organizations were tallied, over 100 different nonprofits had been nominated.

Several were eliminated because they are based out of state and do not have a direct impact on the community.

"There were some groups in there that did have more nominations but again they weren't local and they didn't have any impact in our community specifically so in all fairness it's our community and we know and recognize how great our guests are and people from our community purchase vehicles from us and we wanted to insure that we maintained that integrity with the community by having organizations that directly impact the Rhinelander and surrounding areas," Hettwer said.

Teh voting for nominations was close but there were a few clear favorites.

"There were a couple that were really, really clear to see who was going to be in the (finals) and then the others we were excited to see who the remainder went to," Hettwer said.

It will be interesting to see which deserving non-profit organization will win.

"I think it's going to be very tight, everyone that's on there is a great organization and anyone who wins that money deserves it," Ellis said.

Kayla Breese may be reached at

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2014
Article comment by: Becky Swanson

It would be great for the awesome Redeemer Learning Center would be the recipient of this car. I cast my vote for them. They are such an asset to the community. Working with children. What a great advertisement for Toyota to help children.

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