Shopko Foundation hands out final donations

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Shopko announced in March plans to close all of its stores by mid-June. That also means the end of the Shopko Foundation, a charitable organization that has supported non-profits and schools in our community.

On Thursday, the Shopko Foundation handed out its final donations.

"Giving these final gifts is really just a great blessing," said Michelle Hansen, manager of the Shopko Foundation. "It is a wonderful way to go out, and we hope that we can leave a lasting impact on the community."

"Being that Shopko was our hometown store, we had that connection with local people that could see it, touch, feel, what were doing," said Linda DeWitt, Director of Financial Development at the Greater Green Bay YMCA.

The Greater Green Bay YMCA plans to use the $100,000 gift to give an estimated 1,500 kids from local at-risk schools the chance to get an outdoor education at Camp U-Na-Li-Ya over the next five years.

Another $100,000 gift to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin will help pay for the non-profit organization's new space and help to increase and improve mentoring programs.

"To not receive consistent support like that is a detriment to non-profits in our area, because we rely on these funds to support the community and do what we can to help the kids," said Katie Hess, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Wisconsin.

A $25,000 gift to the Salvation Army supports the 'Tools for Schools' and 'Coats for Kids' programs.

"We think we probably have had a relationship with the Shopko stores since the first store went in on Military," said Nan Pahl, Director of Social Services for the Salvation Army.

The donations presentations created emotional moments for the non-profit organizations saying good-bye to their longtime partner.

"Our programs are going to exist. We just have to find new partners to make that happen," said Pahl.

None of the non-profits say they have secured donors to take the place of the Shopko Foundation, but they remain hopeful.

"We're hoping that some other organization or employer in the community will step out and help out the way Shopko has, but that is why there is going to be such a large void when Shopko does leave our community," said DeWitt.

"It's kind of heartbreaking to think about what they're going to do without Shopko. We are the hometown store, and it has been our responsibility to help out, so it's sad," said Hansen.