Fundraising reimagined during pandemic

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Helping Strays is the latest to join many other local organizations in hosting meat raffles. Visit helpingstrays.org for more information.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been synonymous with the upheaval of plans, causing local civic clubs and organizations to rethink the way they raise funds.

Recently, meat raffles have skyrocketed in popularity, with the Waterloo Lions, Valmeyer Lions, Monroe County Farm Bureau and Waterloo Optimists all hosting them during the pandemic. 

“Everybody loves beef and pork, everybody likes to grill, everybody likes fresh meat,” George Obernagel III, president of the Waterloo Lions Club, said. 

As Obernagel is a member of all these groups, he and Schilling’s Farm together donated beef and pork for the causes, with members selling raffle tickets. 

“Organizations were trying to raise funds to continue to support their projects and their missions,” Obernagel said. “Underneath COVID, they couldn’t meet in big crowds and all of that. With the meat raffles, the members of the clubs could (still) sell the tickets.” 

The Monroe County Farm Bureau turned to meat raffling after its largest fundraising event had to be canceled last year. 

The bureau raffled one quarter beef and two half hogs, the beef donated by O/B Angus, the hog by Clare and Drew Schilling, with processing done by Gateway FS and Sydenstricker Nobbe Partners. 

“The main fundraiser is a silent auction at our annual meeting and with the pandemic we didn’t have the annual meeting,” Monroe County Farm Bureau Office Manager Brenda Seboldt said. “So, we were trying to find a way to still raise funds and reach people and we decided that maybe the meat raffle thing would be a good idea.” 

Judging by the funds generated, it did prove to be. 

“It was very successful,” she said. “We raised $5,400, so we were excited about that. At our silent auction we typically raise around $3,000, so it was a good fundraiser.” 

The funds went toward college scholarships and the Ag in the Classroom program.

This year, the bureau is back to hosting its annual meeting, at which time they will also do a silent auction. The meeting will be 6 p.m. March 12 at the Columbia American Legion, but the silent auction will kick off at 5:30 and run until 7 p.m. 

Members and invited guests are welcome to attend, Seboldt said. 

But don’t worry, there are other upcoming meat raffle fundraisers. Those hoping to win half a hog or a quarter beef may put their name in for a Helping Strays raffle. 

Tickets are $5 each or six for $25, with processing included. The drawing will be held  May 3. Keep checking Helping Strays’ Facebook and website for upcoming information, including how to purchase tickets. 

This year, the Waterloo Lions Club is raffling two half hogs and one quarter beef on March 17. Tickets are $5 for one or six for $15. Contact Obernagel at 618-791-3590 for more information on how to purchase tickets.

Pandemic concerns have caused the Waterloo FFA chapter to pivot its fundraising plans this year as well. In pre-COVID times, the FFA relied on its pork chop dinner and BBQ fundraiser to cover its expenses. 

Citing lingering COVID concerns, Marissa Modglin, FFA adviser and Waterloo High School agriculture teacher, said the chapter is only hosting the BBQ fundraiser this year. 

“At the pork chop dinner, (patrons) sit down together and then there’s an auction. We typically have 300-400 people at that,” Modglin said, continuing, “We’re just still a little nervous with COVID still being pretty active in the community and having a couple hundred people all in the cafeteria at the high school. We made the decision that we’re not ready to go full-blown again so we decided that we would stick to the BBQ and then hopefully by next year we can bring that pork chop dinner back.” 

Modglin explained the structure of the BBQ fundraiser – the FFA purchases pork steaks and brats through Schneider’s Quality Meats and their alumni prepare and grill the meat for patrons to pick up – allows it to continue through the pandemic. 

“The nice thing about the fundraiser is that we were still able to do it during COVID because it is more of a grab-and-go situation,” Modglin said. “We follow all the food safety stuff anyway, but we were able to continue the fundraiser because it is pre-packaged and the customers come, pick it up and they leave.” 

In a typical year, the Waterloo FFA holds its BBQ fundraiser close to the Super Bowl and uses the pork chop dinner to celebrate National FFA Week, which runs Feb. 20-26. With this year’s shake-up, BBQ will be available for purchase through Feb. 18 – either through an FFA member or at the FFA’s Square Site – and can be picked up from 3-5:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Ag Shop.

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