Northwoods Notebook: All that food for 20 bucks?

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by Larry Werner

Cumberland is one of many communities in Wisconsin and Minnesota where food is delivered by Ruby’s Pantry to be sorted and handed out each month to people who want good food at very low cost from grocery stores that didn’t sell it and are willing to give it to the non-profit organization. After three hours working with a couple dozen other volunteers, we were tired, but happy.
It feels good to do good.
There’s a lot of that going on in this little town. Coming up next month is the annual fundraiser for Kinship of Cumberland and Turtle Lake. Shortly after moving to Cumberland, we were invited to attend that event. This is a small town, and we expected a small event. What we found were a couple hundred folks at a dinner and auction of several dozen items, and a live auction of cakes. One of those cakes went for almost a thousand dollars.
We learned later that the event raised more than $80,000.
A couple weeks ago, we went to The Taste in Cumberland. For $30 we got to sample food and drink from local restaurants. As we were being driven in a golf cart from where we parked about a mile from the Cumberland Golf Club, our volunteer cart driver told us 600 were expected for the event. Multiply that out, and you’ve raised $18,000 just from admissions for the Boys & Girls Club. In addition, there are auction items, a golf-ball drop and other ways to raise money for this very good cause.
People give in this town, and they get involved. That doesn’t always happen in big cities.
As I mentioned, I was drafted onto the board of ETC and helped put on events at the Cumberland Arts Center (which was given to the arts council by the Ruppel family, by the way). At the first event I worked, I noticed people coming to the show who could not do steps to the lower-level restrooms. I volunteered to head up a campaign to raise $10,000 for a main-level handicap-accessible restroom at the former church.
We called it “Potties for the People” and kicked it off with a birthday party to celebrate ETC’s 25th anniversary.
We raised about $50,000 and not only built that main-level restroom but expanded and renovated the lower-level restrooms.
Since I have a home in Eagan, Minn., where my kids and grandkids live, I was invited to be on the board of an arts organization there. It’s a beautiful art park with sculptures, walking trails and an amphitheater for performances. The art park has a deficit and we conducted a campaign to raise $25,000 in the park’s 25th year.
We raised less than $10,000 and are conducting another fundraiser Aug. 17.
Eagan’s population is 66,428. Cumberland has a population of 2,170.
It’s called The Island City. It could be called The Giving City.
Larry Werner’s email is



Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
Phone: (715) 822-4469
Hours:  8:30 AM–4:30 PM M-F