Unique program helps fulfill unmet needs in Rusk County

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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) -- All day long the cinnamon rolls have been piling up at Ladysmith Church of Christ. Batch by batch, volunteers have been kneading and rolling the dough until there are 360 frosted and ready to eat.

But this is just the icing on the cake of what amounts to a huge fundraiser.

"Some people work at this all year all long, it has become their vocation," said Lynn Fredrick, a Team Leader for the event.

There are rooms full of baked goods, crafts, Christmas decorations and an attic full of quilts and chainsaw sculptures.

"Everything here has been handmade or homemade in some way," Fredrick said.

Debbie Bujak put 80 hours into a quilt. Hope Burki has been busy baking and frosting cake pops.

Everything has a price. And when all is said and done, 100% goes back into the community.

Half of it will go to what is called the Matthew 25 Project through Rusk County Human Services. It is a program that helps people meet needs not normally served by the county.

"The money doesn't go to the individual, it goes to the service, so if it's a gas bill we send the money right to the gas company," said Ted East, Executive Director of Human Services for Rusk County.

The program has had a huge impact on people like Roger Peterson. A worker all his life, he was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and has been out of work. That paycheck he relied on is not coming in.

"When that source runs out, boy I tell you it really gets to be a battle for a guy," Peterson said.

And so when his chimney went out before winter, the Matthew 25 Program was able to help.

"When you get that boost, you know it's just something that was there, you feel like saying thanks, thanks, who can I send a thank you card to?" He said.

Peterson has been a volunteer with Harvest of Talents before and now is glad to see kindness going full circle.

"If you can help one person out there, it's fantastic, but when you can start helping a bunch of people, it's even more rewarding to hear this," Peterson said.

The Harvest of Talents takes place at Ladysmith Church of Christ on Saturday. The event begins at 7:00 a.m. and goes until 3:00 p.m. There will be cribbage tournaments, carnival games and an auction that starts at 10 a.m.

The church is located at 701 E Menasha Ave. Ladysmith, Wisconsin 54848.

The Harvest of Talents has raised about $78,000 since it started in 2009. The Matthew 25 Project has helped 86 people.

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