Thanks to robust collaboration, a group of Wisconsin credit unions – including three chapters of the Wisconsin Credit Union League – claim rights this week to a grand-daddy of holiday food drives.

So far, the efforts of the three chapters, which account for 35 northern Wisconsin CUs, have raised record sums for food pantries and a host of charities in a near $250,000 campaign that gets bigger ever year.

“One good thing in our favor on behalf of  ‘Stock the Shelves” has been the excellent partnership we have with the Gannett chain, which has leading papers in the area,” said Lynn Marie Hopfensperger, community development officer at the $804 million Fox Communities CU in Appleton. 

Fox Communities and Hopfensperger, who serves as coordinator (or “den mother”, she says) in soliciting volunteers, coordinating donations and delivering supplies, have taken a leading CU role in “Stock the Shelves.” The campaign also has taken root in the area’s major cities – from Oshkosh to Green Bay and Menasha to Appleton.  

And this year, Stock the Shelves, which ran officially from Oct. 14 to Nov. 15, still continues with more public donations and participation from the three league chapters – Fox Cities, Brown County and Winnebago.  

As one element of the program, members could drop non-perishable can goods in grocery carts set up in branch lobbies of all participating CUs.

Although ensuring the food pantries are well stocked for the holidays supported by donations from foundations and from members, the effort has also spread to a “diaper bank” drive to supply diapers to needy families with help from Kimberly Clark Corp. the Neenah, Wis. paper goods manufacturer.  

The president/CEO of Fox Communities, Greg Hilbert, said cooperation among northern Wisconsin CUs is exemplary, and added, “It’s great to see all of our credit unions working together to make our communities an even better place to live, and we are very fortunate to live in a giving area where our giving back is shared with our members.”