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Catholic non-profit groups benefit from Packers’ success Print E-mail
State News
Written by Steve Wideman, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

GREEN BAY -- Seminarians, Catholic schools, parish budgets, the homeless and hungry will all benefit when the Green Bay Packers take the field Sunday, Jan. 15, in a National Football League playoff game against the New York Giants.

Five hours before kickoff, hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life will begin descending on Lambeau for up to 12 hours of hard, and sometimes very cold work to assure that fans from both teams have food, comfort and plenty of souvenirs to take home.

“It’s a 12-hour day from the time you leave home until you get back home,” said Mike Bushman, who coordinates operations at a 22-man food booth on Lambeau Field’s fourth level for Knights of Columbus Council 5514 of Neenah.

The booth serves hundreds of hungry fans during Packer home games with piles of French fries and hundreds of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bratwursts and hot dogs along with braided pretzels, pizza slices, fried cheese curds, hot chocolate, beer and soda.

“It’s an in-house restaurant,” Bushman said.

Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field. The Knights earn money which they apply toward various projects. (Catholic Herald photo/Steve Wideman)

GREEN BAY -- Seminarians, Catholic schools, parish budgets, the homeless and hungry will all benefit when the Green Bay Packers take the field Sunday, Jan. 15, in a National Football League playoff game against the New York Giants.

Five hours before kickoff, hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life will begin descending on Lambeau for up to 12 hours of hard, and sometimes very cold work to assure that fans from both teams have food, comfort and plenty of souvenirs to take home.

“It’s a 12-hour day from the time you leave home until you get back home,” said Mike Bushman, who coordinates operations at a 22-man food booth on Lambeau Field’s fourth level for Knights of Columbus Council 5514 of Neenah.

The booth serves hundreds of hungry fans during Packer home games with piles of French fries and hundreds of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, bratwursts and hot dogs along with braided pretzels, pizza slices, fried cheese curds, hot chocolate, beer and soda.

“It’s an in-house restaurant,” Bushman said.

The Neenah Knights of Columbus group is one of dozens of non-profit groups, both religious and non-religious, that ring all levels of Lambeau Field with food service booths. Other groups, including Catholic schools and parishes raise funds by parking cars, handing out rental seats, souvenirs and game programs.

Earn addition income

Like all businesses around Lambeau Field, the nonprofit groups are happy that the Packers have at least one playoff game (and possibly two if the Packers defeat the Giants) at home. The games mean additional income for worthy causes.

According to the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, a regular Packers home game brings in more than $8 million in revenue for hotels restaurants and other businesses. Playoff games are estimated to be more profitable.

Bushman said the Knights contract with Chicago-based Levy Restaurants Inc., which provides food service to most major league venues across the country, including Lambeau Field.

“Our partners at Lambeau Field are very passionate about giving back to the community,” Eva Yusa, director of communications for Levy Restaurants, said of the Packers’ willingness to allow Levy to bring in community volunteer groups to augment their professional staff.

The Knights’ council is guaranteed $55 per person who works, or 10 percent of the sales, whichever is greater.

“We earn about $750 per game,” Bushman said.

Bushman figures the council will earn, not counting tips, at least $600 for any playoff game it works.

“It will have a positive and needed financial impact,” Bushman said.

Used for variety of purposes

Funds raised at the Packer games are used for a variety of purposes, including helping to fund the training of at least two seminarians from the Diocese of Green Bay.

“We decided that was where some of our money would go because that’s where our greatest need is,” Bushman said.

In addition, the council uses the money to help St. Joseph Food Pantry in the Town of Menasha and Father Carr’s Place 2B food program in Oshkosh.

The funds are also used to assist food programs at local homeless shelters.

Most recently, funds raised at the Packer games were used to refurbish water fonts at St. Gabriel Catholic Church in Neenah. The fonts were polished and finished with a clear-coat before being re-mounted. Aluminum inserts were replaced with brass inserts.

Other local Knights of Columbus councils jump in to help the Neenah Knights.

“The Winneconne council budgets for the year what they plan on making at Lambeau,” Bushman said.

Funds raised while volunteering at Packer games play an important part in the operating budget of All Saints Catholic Church in Demark.

Volunteers from the church help man the Packer Pro Shop during home games.

Volunteers currently earn $100 each per game to bag purchases by fans.

“We have eight volunteers for each game so that’s $800 we earn for each game. That’s very important to us. So it’s awesome that we are having playoff games,” said Louise Reetz, who coordinates the game day volunteers and a church fund-raising committee called Parish Funding.

Unlike most other groups that volunteer at Lambeau, All Saints works directly for the Packers.

The Parish Funding group contributed as much as $90,000 to the parish, a significant portion coming from Packer games, Reetz said.

“The money goes to our parish to keep our parish alive,” Reetz said.

Reetz noted parish funding is down this year, including profits from the annual parish picnic.

Proceeds from the Packer games have been used to purchase technological equipment for the parish school, including computers, Reetz said.

Reetz said All Saints was helping out at Packer games 20 years ago, before the current Packer Pro Shop was built.

“The Packer Pro Shop didn’t used to be a big shop. They would actually set up trailers outside so you had to work in the elements,” Reetz said. “Back then we handled the money and charge cards. We don’t have to do that anymore. We just pack bags.”

Volunteers are required to be at Lambeau Field three hours before game time and to stay 90 minutes after the game.

“It’s a good chunk out of our day. But the Packers are nice to us. They even give us a very nice meal,” Reetz said.

 
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