Turtle Back Pack Drive Benefits Freedom House Homeless Shelter


(WLUK) — Two compassionate organizations have come together to give Green Bay area kids backpacks filled with supplies.

Trades of Hope partners with women in 17 countries to create unique jewelry, home décor and various other items native to their country that is sold internationally. It empowers the women out of poverty and sex trafficking.

Artisans in Guatemala hand sew adorable turtle backpacks; each one is unique. Patti VanderPloeg, a Trades of Hope entrepreneur, is soliciting individuals to sponsor backpacks for $26. Patti then fills the backpacks with new crayons, markers, bubbles and other items to donate to Freedom House in Green Bay.

Freedom House offers emergency shelter, food, basic hygiene items and the support and comprehensive programming to help families get back out on their own.

“These young children rarely have items like these of their own and, as the older children are getting their school supplies the younger siblings will be blessed with their own backpacks to help them develop fine motor skills,” Patti VanderPloeg said.

So far, 46 backpacks have been sponsored. Freedom House shared that families spend an average of 8 – 12 weeks so any extra backpacks will be given to new children that arrive at the shelter in the upcoming months.

Women in Guatemala make the backpacks. Trades of Hope explains that women in that Central American country often struggle through abuse, poverty, and heartache. But these women are now becoming proud business owners by utilizing their traditional skills, they are able to create beautiful products that reflect their culture. They can provide for their families at home rather than leaving in search of work and can also send their children to school to pursue their dreams. This is because people around the world purchase their work!

Trades of Hope is also donating puppets, made by artisans in India for children at Freedom House.

If you are interested in donating a $26 turtle backpack to Freedom House, contact Patti VanderPloeg via email at pattivan255@aol.com

Shopko Foundation gives $2.5 million in final gift to the community

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The closing of Shopko doesn’t only mean the disappearance of thousands of jobs, it’s also a devastating loss to local organizations who rely on grants from the company’s charitable foundation. In the past 39 years, the Shopko Foundation has given over $35 million in grants to support everything from health to education. On Tuesday, the Foundation’s Michelle Hansen went on a farewell tour to hand out one last gift to the community, and she invited NBC26 to join her.

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Concerns About Shelter for Homeless Grow as Temperatures Drop

GREEN BAY, Wis. – As the temperatures continue to drop homeless shelters in our area are seeing an increase in the number of people wanting to seek protection from the elements,

The Department of Housing and Urban Development just released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.

The numbers show that there are about 5,000 homeless people in Wisconsin and as the winter season wears on concerns about where those homeless will stay are growing.

Evidence of this week’s heavy snowfall sits atop the Freedom House in Green Bay.

If you’re homeless this much snow makes finding a place to sleep difficult.

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Sesame Street creates homeless storyline

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) — Sesame Street revealed a new storyline for Muppet Lily on Wednesday.

The children’s program first introduced Lily in 2011. She originally portrayed food insecurity as part of a family without consistent access to food. Now, her storyline has changed, and for the first time on Sesame Street, Lily represents a homeless child.

Her journey is not being aired on TV episodes of “Sesame Street” right now. Instead, videos of Lily can be found online along with other stories and resources.

“Sesame Street has a history of addressing sensitive topics in different ways,” said Sandy Kallunki, Youth Services Manager at the Brown County Library.

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Freedom House cuts ribbon on renovations

Freedom House in Green Bay held a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday to reveal a renovation project.

Newly renovated living room at Freedom House for homeless families (WBAY photo)

The Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce put together a team of local business professionals to do some work in the community. It’s part of a “Leadership Green Bay” class.

The group worked to make the dining and living room at Freedom House better for homeless families who stay there.

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