October Jefferson Award Winners: Kathy & Stephanie - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

October Jefferson Award Winners: Kathy & Stephanie

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LONE ROCK (WKOW) -- A mother-daughter duo is making waves in one local community by helping feed their neighbors.

Mom, Kathy Rossing, and her daughter, Stephanie Hegland, are our Jefferson Award Winners for October. 

Once a month, Lone Rock Elementary school is transformed.

It becomes a gathering place for a warm meal and good company.

The community kitchen is the brainchild of Stephanie.

She was born and raised in Lone Rock and now works as the school nurse.

"Lone Rock is a really great town and it's just for everybody to come out and meet your neighbors."

In May of 2012, she began offering the free meals to the community every month.

It started with about 50 people and has tripled since then.

"I didn't expect it to be this big, I really didn't and it feels really good," says Stephanie.

The dinner is made possible by donations from local businesses and some help from the community.

"We decide what we are gonna have, go get the groceries and then the night before we prepare it and get together some volunteers and it ends up working out."

Stephanie isn't the only one making a difference in Lone Rock.

Not too long after she launched the dinner, her mom, Kathy, started a food pantry with the help of fundraisers and donations.

"According to our free and reduced lunch numbers we estimate 70% poverty in our student population," says Kathy.

The pantry teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank, which donated a freezer.

That means the pantry was able to expand, providing the community with perishable items as well.

"It was the answer to our prayers really."

Once a month, anyone who says they're in need is welcome to pick up food here.

Kathy says, "We try to provide enough for a week to ten days of meals if we can."

It's grown from serving 15 families a month, to 40.

And there are plans to take the pantry even further with a program called "Snack Attack"

Kathy says, "At the end of the day we'll have some kind of healthy snack for the kids to eat before they go home."

She says the change in the community is also showing in the schools.

Lone Rock Elementary was given the Title I School of Recognition award this year from the state for success in educating students from low-income families.

Stephanie and Kathy's dedication to their community is what makes them our Jefferson Award Winners for October.

 

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