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Wisconsin Dells Food Pantry donation

SSM Health St. Clare Hospital President Laura Jelle, left, unloads hygiene products at the Wisconsin Dells Food Pantry on Wednesday with coordinators Holly and Wally Weber. The hospital's fundraising organization donated $2,000 worth hygiene products this week to both the Wisconsin Dells and Baraboo food pantries.

Local food pantries play an integral role in feeding disadvantaged families throughout the community, but they also provide hygiene products and household items that are essential to people’s health and well-being.

The Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells food pantries both rely on donations from local organizations and businesses to offer soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent and other important hygiene items to those in need. This week, the SSM Health St. Clare Foundation donated $2,000 worth of products to both facilities.

“People often think about food, but they don’t consider hygiene items,” said St. Clare Foundation Director Julia Randles. “If you don’t have money to purchase food, you won’t have money to purchase those products.”

St. Clare Foundation workers dropped off funding and supplies at the Baraboo and Wisconsin Dells food pantries on Wednesday and Thursday. The Baraboo Food Pantry serves about 350 families each year, while the Wisconsin Dells Food Pantry helps between 200 and 300, with demand increasing around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Baraboo Food Pantry manager Rod Werner said there is a serious need for hygiene products in the community. He said donations from the St. Clare Foundation and other local organizations and businesses are essential to ensuring the needs are met.

“They go off the shelf as fast as we can get them in,” Werner said. “Families only come to the pantry once a month, but the hygiene products don’t last very long.”

Wisconsin Dells Food Pantry coordinator Holly Weber said donations are very helpful because the facility doesn’t spend budgeted money on hygiene products.

“Some of the items will add up price-wise very quickly,” she said. “If we’re able to provide these options for our customers to pick from, that helps them to stretch their dollars as best they can in other ways.”

In addition to the St. Clare Foundation’s $4,000 donation, SSM Health St. Clare Hospital & Dean Medical Group physicians decided to provide both food pantries with $250 in recognition of National Doctor’s Day, which is celebrated on March 30. It honors physicians for the work they do for their patients, the communities they work in and for society as a whole.

Randles said the St. Clare Foundation has donated funding and hygiene products to the local food pantries for several years. She said the need for such items is often overlooked.

“It’s so important to have these items available to people,” she said. “Washing your hands, cleanliness — it all goes into your health and well-being, so it’s essential.”

Follow Jake Prinsen on Twitter @prinsenjake

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Baraboo News Republic Reporter