Within minutes of sitting down at CBS 58, the phones began to ring and Cynthia Schmoller answered, taking the first of several large donations for the Hunger Task Force food bank in Milwaukee.
“I sat down and took my first phone call and had the highest donation that I’ve ever received in my three years volunteering,” Schmoller said. “It was $2,000 from a former police officer from the Milwaukee police force.”
Schmoller was one of 13 employees who traveled to Milwaukee Thursday, March 8, for a telethon fundraiser to support hunger relief in Wisconsin.
Known as “Match Madness MKE,” the ten-day fundraiser culminated with a live telethon on CBS 58 benefiting the Hunger Task Force. All donations received during the fundraiser were matched dollar for dollar, which meant the $2,000 donation Schmoller received was actually $4,000 toward hunger relief.
“Match Madness MKE is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year and it comes at a really important time because after the holidays, donations really start to slow down,” Hunger Task Force spokesman Jonathan Hansen said. “We all know that hunger doesn’t take a break. There are people in our communities every single day. Hunger Task Force serves 35,000 people every single month through our pantry network.”
In addition to the volunteer effort by employees, Sargento also donated funds to help seed the match pool.
“To have an organization like Sargento step up and be a leader at Match Madness MKE and help us double all donations in the month of March is huge for the Hunger Task Force and helps us feed thousands of people and, more importantly, thousands of kids in our community,” Hansen said.
The Sargento employees volunteered from 4 to 7 p.m. — a prime time slot on CBS 58 during Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy.
“I thought it was fantastic. The comradery was wonderful and everyone had a fun time,” Schmoller, a logistics master data manager, said.
The employees received just shy of $10,000 in donations during the three hours, which resulted in $20,000 in donations to the Hunger Task Force when matched.
“I had an older woman call who was very emotional. She couldn’t believe that any man, woman, or child should go hungry,” said Mary Klein, a production utility employee in Kiel. “All she could afford was $10, but she felt she would donate something.”
Schmoller appeared to be in the hot seat and took two calls for $2,000.
“One man said he and his wife donate every year, and his company matches his donation,” Schmoller said. “Plus it gets doubled. It was essentially $6,000 dollars.”
The phones rang steadily with employees answering calls and filling out the paperwork associated with donation forms.
News anchors stopped in several times throughout the evening to offer words of encouragement and produce live broadcasts during commercial breaks on CBS 58.
The total Match Madness MKE effort last year raised $352,000 for the Hunger Task Force, which means when matched, the free and local food bank received more than $700,000.
“Hunger Task Force is a free and local food bank, so these donations will help us purchase food, it’s going to help us deliver food to local pantries and meal programs, and it’s going to help us provide that food absolutely free of charge to families who need help,” Hansen said.
Locally, the Hunger Task Force works with the Sheboygan County Food Bank.
“I want to say a big thank you to Sargento, the Gentine family, and all the folks who help us out every year, not just at this event, but through Touchdowns for Charity, other volunteerism, and for being awesome partners of ours in general,” Hansen said.
Team Sargento answered calls during the highly-rated Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune time slot!