WAUSAU, Wis (WSAW) -- For the past 30 years, Sharon and LeRoy Dehnel from Wausau have collected unwanted deer hides to raise money for children with disabilities. The hides are sold to the highest bidder and turned into gloves with all proceeds going to Wisconsin’s Lions Camp in Rosholt.
“It’s simple,” said LeRoy. “I like when people drop them off unfrozen, then we take the tail off, cover the hide in salt and then we send them off.”
The Dehnel's volunteer at the camp every summer and believe the programs help increase the confidence levels in each of the kids who attend. On average it could cost up to $1,000 for each kid to attend, the money raised in deer hide donations helps lower the cost or makes it free for the children who want to attend.
“I don’t want people to throw away their deer hides,” explained Sharon. “We just want people to drop them off, we will take them off your hands and take care of them until it’s time to give them away.”
Of course, organizing such a large fundraiser is hard to do. Starting just after Thanksgiving, Sharon and LeRoy post flyers throughout the area letting people know where to donate their hides. This year their grandson posted about it on social media which helped bring in more donations.
The Dehnel’s are also members of the Berlin Hamburg Lions Club. There are more than 100 clubs around the state.
“Right now there are about 200 clubs collecting deer hides,” stated Bernard Stuttgen, Founder of the deer hide fundraisers. "I do it because it helps the kids who need it most. Once you go there and get to know one of the kids personally, it’s so heartwarming.”
Stuttgen along with Bill Mueller has donated their time to organize these fundraisers across the state as well.
“It’s just a good program and it brings in money that might not come in otherwise.”
Since these deer hide fundraisers have taken place, more than $1.2 million has gone to support the camp. The Dehnel's plan to do the fundraiser again this year.