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The Lakeland Community Church in Lake Geneva donates money every year to many deserving charities and should be applauded for its generosity. The church wanted to give something back, and show appreciation to the Lake Geneva city team that serves the Lake Geneva community. The church, and its parishioners, donated seven hundred and fifty dollars ($750.00), to be used as the city deemed fit, without restriction. The letter that accompanied the check read: “If there is a financial need that this gift could help meet, feel free to use it in that way, or, if you would like to use it to simply throw a party or provide a meal for your team, then feel free to use it in that way.” Some would consider this a response that might have a bit of tongue and cheek to it. The city, however, decided to spend the money on purchasing lunch for city officials and city employees.

This action on the part of city leadership angered some of the residents who were attending the city council meeting last week. During public comments, one resident went so far as to loudly voice her disappointment and outrage, appalled that no other deserving charity or need was considered. That lunch,  expected to be purchased with the contributed money, gives no consideration to the approximately 45% of Lake Geneva students on the financially “reduced” lunch plan in place at all of Lake Geneva’s schools.  Some students are so poor that they eat for free, but not the majority of others.

Would it not have been something, if the city had seen fit to pay some of the money for those students that don’t qualify for a free lunch, but many times still go without lunch due to their parents’ financial situation? Lake Geneva’s percentage of students in need is not a small percent and is in keeping with most of the rest of the nation. On average, nearly thirty million children eat lunch at school a day, and about twenty million of those students must pay reduced rates or eat for free because of difficult financial circumstances suffered by their families. Funding for school lunch programs is in the crosshairs of the current federal executive branch. The current budget proposal for 2021 from the white house has substantial cuts in aid for children and students.  If this is passed by congress even more children will suffer.  Poverty and hunger are issues that many Americans deal with, most times in silence, and those conditions definitely include a good number of residents in Lake Geneva and their children.

Lake Geneva has a great leadership team that works hard for the community and deserves to be acknowledged for it, but is this the best way to disperse the funds that were so generously donated by a charity that raises the money based upon expectations of contributors that their contributions will go for giving causes? Maybe an appreciation lunch, scheduled for some future date, could come out of the city’s contingency fund or even the city’s operating budget.  It was astounding to some citizens that such heartfelt funds, gathered under the best intentions, would go to provide the “party” mentioned in the letter by the church.  One has to wonder if, upon reading this headline story, whether that church will consider a distribution of donated money to the city again next year, or if it does, will it then, or ever again, mention that the money might well be, or be recommended to be, used for an office party?


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