Donations to Lincoln Tree of Hope help families over winter break

RyAnna Polenske unboxes all the food donated by her family and Waverly High School organizations.
RyAnna Polenske unboxes all the food donated by her family and Waverly High School organizations.(KOLNKGIN)
Published: Dec. 19, 2019 at 10:30 PM CST
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As winter break approaches for Lincoln Public Schools, it might be hard for families to come up with meals while their students are staying home.

Thanks to the kindness of some in the Waverly community, nearly 60 families won't have to worry about that anymore. The donations started as a family project for the Polenske's.

"I wanted to do a service project with our family, I think it's really important to raise strong young women, we've got three daughters," said Cheri Polenske. "To have them service-orientated with a pay-it-forward mind is important to us."

Cheri's youngest daughter, RyAnna, thought the project should be bigger and she took it to Waverly High School.

"Each club donated one item per day or extra, however many they wanted to do," said RyAnna, a junior.

Clubs and groups at Waverly High School brought in hundreds of items: canned goods, macaroni, soup, saltines, vegetables, fruit and other items. It packed the Polenske's van up to the driver's seat.

"You don't really think about it. I feel very privileged to have food, and grateful that I have it," said RyAnna. "Other people don't, so it felt good to get this food to other people."

Today was the day the Polenske's brought in all that food to Lincoln. Before the Waverly donation, the Lincoln Tree of Hope had enough food to feed 30 families over winter break. This donation doubles that.

"It's really awesome when people want to give donations, whether it is physical items or monetary so we can continue doing service projects for the community," said Shannon Crellin, the president and founder of Lincoln Tree of Hope.

Crellin said the generosity of others fuels the non-profits ability to take care of the community. If you or someone you know could benefit from this free food, learn more on

or check out

Distribution dates and locations have not yet been announced, but Crellin recommends following the Facebook page to stay in touch.