Marshfield Clinic Health System: Helping clients with essential supplies during trying times

MARSHFIELD – A $1,000 charitable contribution from the Marshfield Clinic Health System/Security Health Plan COVID-19 Community Support Fund has given the Northwoods Share (NWS) Needs Pantry in Eagle River a welcome boost for several months. It’s helped the non-profit service organization ensure they have sufficient supplies to freely give their clients, who are facing even tougher times than usual due to the pandemic.

“By the things that you have provided through your generosity, you are touching lives of people in the Northwoods at a very basic level and they very much appreciate it,” said Doug Ralston of the NWS.

Many clients were unemployed, receiving unemployment or had hours reduced during the COVID-19 stay-at-home period, which meant less money for groceries and household items. The contribution helped NWS stock necessary household and personal hygiene products for these families, allowing them to stretch their grocery money and focus on food items.

It was a great help to families to be able to find these items when some of the stores did not have them or were running low. NWS was able to help families maintain a healthy home environment by providing the supplies to clean and sanitize their homes.

The NWS Needs Pantry, along with the other facets of their organization, serves 250-350 families per month in eastern Vilas County and a portion of western Oneida County. During the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, they served less than a hundred per month.

In June and July those numbers increased to 122 families and 177 families respectively, which shows a marked uptick in need as clients begin to return to a new normal and venture from their homes more often.

“When our clients come through the drive through line, we greet them, ask them how things are going, give them product, take prayer concerns, sometimes pray with them and find out what’s going on in their lives,” said Ralston. “Invariably they say ‘thank you’ for the friendly face and short conversation, and for the products they have received and need. They smile and take away a sense that someone cares.”

NWS has four aspects to its ministry, which have all had to adapt during the pandemic.

  • Needs Pantry – Household cleaning and personal hygiene products free to clients once a month. Distribution is handled in a drive through approach.
  • IC HELP – Emergency or spot financial assistance to clients for rent, car repairs, utilities, etc. One-on-one socially distanced interviews are held in light of COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Community Dinners – Free meals twice a month to any and all who desire to come. This has changed from twice a month in their building to prepared, prepackaged foods given free in a drive through approach.
  • Gently used clothing is given free to those in need, with a limited number of clients allowed in the building at one time per COVID-19 guidelines.

The NWS Needs Pantry was able to purchase enough supplies to help families through the end of the summer. They continue to rely on donations to support the families in their area. For more information on NWS, please visit their website at