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PANTRY CLOSED Dec. 23-28 and Dec. 30; OPEN Dec. 29 - 9 am to 4 pm


We are grateful to everyone who has provided generous financial support to WayForward Resources this year.

As you make your year-end giving plans, please consider talking with your tax or other financial advisors about joining our community efforts to provide food access and housing stability in one of the following ways:*


Qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from your individual retirement account (IRA) are still tax-free. Anyone age 70 ½ or older may receive QCD treatment for certain transfers of up to $100,000 from their IRA directly to a qualified charity. Transfers qualifying as QCDS are not included in taxable
income and reduce the balance of your retirement account (on which you and your heirs will ultimately pay tax). You can direct your QCDs to one or more qualified charitable organizations of your choice.

Note: Be sure to confirm with your advisor that the transfer meets the requirements to be treated as a QCD.


If you want to retain flexibility in the causes you support, consider establishing a donor-advised fund. You can plan a charitable tax deduction this year and retain the flexibility to distribute gifts to charities later or over multiple years.


Gifts of appreciated securities may provide an increased tax deduction. If you have stocks or other securities that are worth more than you paid for them, and you’ve owned them for at least 12 months, consider giving those to charity. This may avoid capital gains tax and allow a charitable deduction for the securities’ full fair market value. Your deduction for donations of appreciated stock or securities to public charities is limited to 30% of your adjusted gross income each year, but you can carry over any excess deductions for up to five additional years.

Note: Since gifts of appreciated stock can take time to process, coordinate with your financial advisor as soon as possible to ensure a transfer can be completed by year end.


*Thank you to Madison Community Foundation for providing this information.

WayForward Resources Executive Director Ellen Carlson wrote a guest column published online by the Wisconsin State Journal that addresses the dramatic increase in need food pantries in Dane County are seeing and how the community can help.

“Visits to our food pantry, which serves all of Dane County, have more than tripled since January 2022. We are now distributing the equivalent of 125,000 meals each month,” Carlson wrote in the column that will appear in the print edition on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Carlson shared that the demand shows now sign of going away and that experts point to pandemic-era support, general inflation and the steep increase in housing costs that cause people to focus even more of their income on paying rent.

“We have never turned anyone away, but we have had to put some limits on the amount of food people can take,” Carlson wrote. “We worry about how we and other local food pantries can continue to ensure that everyone in our community has access to nutritious food.”

In addition Carlson addresses the misconception is that food pantries operate mainly with state or federal support. She notes that only a small amount of food comes in through the federal Emergency Food Assistance Program. WayForward stocks its shelves by relying on a complex web of systems and collaborations. That includes strategic partnerships with Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, surplus from local grocery and convenience stores, as well as monetary and food donations from businesses, foundations, churches and individuals.

“Food pantries need your support now more than ever. Donations of money, food and your time can all make an immediate difference,” she wrote, adding that she wants people in our community to know food pantries will be there to prove a safety net.

“We must come together to make sure food pantries can continue to keep our neighbors from experiencing hunger,” she wrote.

The Mulcahy Family is providing a #GivingTuesday challenge gift this year in hopes of motivating future generations to give back.

“WayForward as Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) provided a way for my family to participate in our community’s care for those who found themselves in need of support,” says Patricia Mulcahy. “When our children were young, I served on the MOM Board of Directors representing my parish and provided transportation for an elderly woman through the Project for Older People. Over the years the organization’s outreach has evolved and broadened and the community has continued to step up. Our children now have children of their own and this gift is to encourage them to support others through their communities.” 

ReMitts, an amazing community partner to WayForward Resources and other food pantries in our community, was recently featured on NBC 15’s morning show with reporter Mackenzie Davis.

Founder Janet Tupy and lead volunteer Ann Nelson shared the story of how the group turns old wool sweaters into colorful and warm mittens, benefiting food pantries in Dane County.

For $40 a pair, the proceeds go directly to three local food pantries, including WayForward.

“No one’s more astonished than I am at how well this has gone over and how much good it’s done for our community,” Tupy said in the interview. “I think it’s great.”

Nelson said each pair takes about three hours to make. “But we know that 100 percent of our effort is going to go toward the food pantry and that makes it worth it,” she said.

WayForward Communications Manager Jenny Price joined Tupy and Nelson to share information about how the need for food in our community continues to grow.

“Since January 2022, the monthly visits for our pantry are up more than 200 percent and that means we’re distributing the equivalent of about 125,000 meals per month from our pantry,” Price told Davis.

You can find ReMitts at WayForward’s Holiday Art Market at FCI on December 2 and 3.



For Stephanie Lemancik and Rebecca Johnson, volunteering in WayForward’s garden was the seed for a strong, intergenerational friendship.

The two scientists first got to know each other as members of a “Green Committee” at their company, Thermo Fisher Scientific, which has been a longtime supporter of WayForward through food drives. They started volunteering for WayForward’s garden five years ago as part of the group, sparked by Johnson’s idea to garden to help others.

Over time, the group got smaller and just the two of them remained. Lemancik and Johnson have volunteered every week of gardening season since they began in 2018, except for days when the weather is too hot or severe to safely get out there. Both say they bonded over their love of volunteering and enjoyment of learning more about gardening along the way.

“I never considered myself to be a green thumb,” says Lemancik (at left in photo), who credits Dan Johnson, WayForward’s lead garden volunteer, for his mentoring and coaching. “We meet at the garden and he gives us our marching orders.”

The work is still challenging on some days, but both women say it’s worth it. 

“I think back to when we’re focused on watering those little pepper plants back in July, and it’s like 90 degrees and we’re miserable,” Lemancik says. “And then we see these tiny plants growing up and producing so much food. When you look back over the course of the months and how much things have grown and changed, it’s such a beautiful journey.”

“It’s just such an important initiative to support the people in our community, even if we never meet them personally,” she says.

Johnson (at right in photo) says the beauty of WayForward’s garden – and what it produces to provide people in our community access to nutritious food – is part of what keeps her coming back season after season.

“I think it’s our duty in life to give to others and this is a perfect example of where our hard work actually can improve someone else’s health,” Johnson says. “That brings a huge amount of joy and happiness and satisfaction.” 

This is the 10th year that Middleton-based NET (Network Engineering Technologies) has made it easy for its employees to get in on the fun of supporting Winter Wishes and the reason is both simple and powerful.

“We care about our community and we really believe that helping others strengthens those bonds that hold us all together,” says Laura Duffield, NET’s Accounts Receivable Manager, who organizes the effort.

Winter Wishes provides $30 gift cards to participants. It’s a great opportunity for co-workers, teams, families and groups to come together to make the holidays special for people in our community. 

Last year, NET sponsored 100 Winter Wishes participants. This year, the company is increasing its commitment and purchasing gift cards for 200 people. 

About 30 employees typically take part by going out to shop for cards and if they choose to, they can donate small trinkets or stocking stuffers geared toward the age of the recipient to add to the bag with the gift card. Employees also donate wrapping paper to add to the stash recipients can choose from when picking up their gift cards at WayForward so they can wrap up the gifts they buy.

Duffield says the program resonates with employees who started at NET early in their careers and now have families of their own and want to support other parents.

“We’ve all had times in our life where we needed help without judgment or just a little boost to get us through,” Duffield says. “The holidays are hard. … so anything we can do to try to lighten the load for a parent, it just feels so worth it.”

WayForward is seeing increased demand across all of our programs this year and we are expecting a record number of people to sign up and qualify for Winter Wishes this year. Supporting Winter Wishes is a great way to engage your employees during the holiday season and bring joy to others in our community. 

Sign up by December 4 to get matched with participants or donate funds to help purchase gift cards. Have questions? Contact Jill Bradshaw, Community Engagement Manager, at

WayForward was honored this week for being named to the Wisconsin Association of School Boards 2023 Business Honor Roll, which recognizes outstanding local businesses that support their schools.

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District nominated WayForward, which was among five nominees in the community selected, including Bridging Brighter Smiles, Lake Ridge Bank, One Community Bank-Middleton, and USI Insurance Services. The district’s nomination highlighted WayForward’s role in ensuring that individuals and families throughout Dane County have access to nourishing food. WayForward Executive Director Ellen Carlson and Case Manager Claire Baker accepted the honor at this week’s school board meeting from Superintendent Dr. Dana Monogue and Board of Education President Sheila Hibner (center in above photo).

“Their remarkable efforts have made them an invaluable partner to our social workers and education foundation,” Monogue said. “We extend our sincere gratitude to WayForward Resources for tirelessly providing us with food and personal hygiene items to better support the students, staff and families in our district. Their dedication to helping others is both humbling and inspiring, and we deeply appreciate the role they play in our mission to uplift and empower those around us. With their unwavering support, we can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those we serve. WayForward Resources, thank you for being such a crucial partner in our pursuit of a better and brighter tomorrow for all.”

We are proud to partner with the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District to build a community where everyone has the stability to thrive.


Our Clothing Center offers free clothing and household items thanks to your generous donations. As we continue to adapt to the need in our community, we recently updated our guidelines for what items we can accept due to space and volunteer capacity.

Please review the list below before you bring donations and remove items we cannot accept. Otherwise, we have to dispose of these items, which unfortunately adds to our costs.

We CAN accept these items:

We CANNOT accept these items:

Tania* was preparing to start her last year of college when she was laid off from the job she counted on to cover the rent on her apartment.

She was on the path to becoming a teacher. Her landlord suggested reaching out to WayForward for help.

Tania received financial assistance from WayForward’s Housing Stability Program that allowed her to stay in her apartment while she looked for a new job and start the academic year without the stress of facing eviction.

Thanks to your support and commitment, last year we provided financial assistance and case management to more than 600 households, key tools to helping them stay in their homes.


*name and identifying details changed

For the last year or more, we’ve kept you informed about the rising numbers at our food pantry. With your support, we continue to meet the need in our community despite the challenges we face.

No one is turned away who needs food.

Everyone who comes to the pantry can choose from a variety of healthy foods and essential items. What is in stock changes from week to week, partially depending on what food we receive that week. We receive food from Second Harvest Food Bank, Community Action Coalition and local retailers who pass on surplus items, along with our gardens, community food drives and your individual donations.

All of these are critical sources of food for the pantry and allow us to meet the growing need, with more than 147,000 pounds of donated food coming in last year. We also received more than 200,000 pounds of rescued items donated by local retailers that provide more options to our guests and at the same time help reduce food waste.

Visits per month are up 197% since January 2022, because of large scale factors that are also impacting other food pantries, including additional federal food and rental assistance put into place during the pandemic coming to an end earlier this year.

Due to increased demand, we are purchasing significantly more food now than in the past, buying more than 130,000 pounds last year.

We’re grateful to have you join us in meeting this increased demand. Any amount of food donated by the community is important, because that is food we don’t have to purchase.

Whether you organize a food drive with your co-workers or neighbors, shop our Top 10 list and bring food to donate or purchase items directly from our Amazon wish list, all of these actions help ensure that people in our community have access to nutritious food.