The Packers Women's Association embarks on one of the nation's biggest food collections this Sunday, teaming with Festival Foods for the 25th Annual Food Drive for "Paul's Pantry" prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at Lambeau Field.
Packers fans have been the key contributors for "Paul's Pantry" over the last quarter-century, as their donations annually of non-perishable food items or cash feeds more needy than any other collection for "Paul's Pantry."
Prior to kickoff, look for the wives and significant others of Packers players in their jerseys outside the stadium's gates and in the parking lots collecting food items and cash donations. Food items can also be placed in bins throughout the parking lot, and a Festival Foods "Big Cart" will be on site to promote the cause, as well.
Volunteers from "Paul's Pantry," a supplementary food distributorship program for the needy in the greater Green Bay area, will be assisting with the collection and wearing PWA pins.
"We can't stress enough how important the fans have been over the last 25 years in making this food drive such a tremendous success," said Packers Manager of Family Programs Sherry Schuldes, who works closely with the PWA and "Paul's Pantry" in organizing the annual food drive.
"Because of the generosity of our fans, there have been so many people in our area who have been able to eat. If everyone who comes to the game brought just one can of food, it would be 70,000 cans. We haven't gotten there yet, but one of our goals is to get everyone involved."
The PWA members are headed by co-chairwomen Laura Hawk, wife of linebacker A.J. Hawk, and Martavia Wynn, wife of defensive end Jarius Wynn. For Hawk, this is her sixth year being involved with the drive.
"The fans are the entire reason this has been so successful because it stocks the food pantry for over half the year," she said. "With the way the economy has gone recently, it has hurt charitable donations and this event helps because it creates awareness that 'Paul's Pantry' is here and that it really helps families in need."
As an added incentive to donate to the food drive, fans have an opportunity to win Packers autographed items. For every $5 donation or five non-perishable food items contributed, a fan will receive a ticket stub. The winning ticket numbers will be drawn and announced on the matrix board during the game. Fans can pick up their item at the guest services desk in the Atrium.
Over the previous 24 years of conducting the food drive, the Packers Women's Association has collected nearly 617,000 non-perishable food items and $242,531 for "Paul's Pantry."
"This is probably our most important event," Hawk said. "It brings us all together to do something great for others. We feel like everyone comes from different backgrounds, and some have gone through tough times in the past. We want to help build the community. We don't just want to be here alongside our husbands. That's why it's so close to our hearts and why this food drive has been such a big event for so long now."