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Andrea Morse chooses canned goods while assembling care packages for homeless people at ECHO in Janesville.

JANESVILLE

ECHO in Janesville is looking forward to supplying community meals for the public throughout 2022. The nonprofit has been providing the meals for more than 30 years. Since 2006, the meal has been held at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Throughout the years, churches and organizations will sign up to provide a meal.

“It’s whatever they want to make. It varies all the time,” said Fran Brien, volunteer coordinator at ECHO. “It’s usually around 100 people a meal. Sometimes it will be a little more so they make enough for 125. If we have any meal leftover, then we call GIFTS, House of Mercy or the YWCA to see if they can use any.”

Past meals have been anything from Italian sandwiches, fruit, chips, noodles with meatballs, pulled pork sandwiches and more. For January and February 2022, all meals will be carryout only. Volunteer and former president Nancy Hansen-Bennett usually hands out the to-go packages, Brien said.

“If somebody is not there, she (Hansen-Bennett) gets kind of worried until they show up,” Brien said. “One volunteer in the past has taken down meals to where some of the homeless guys are, so they get some meals too.”

ECHO will also be doing its annual Easter children basket distribution, school supply distribution, Thanksgiving basket and Christmas toy distribution. It is also hoping to bring back its spring dance, which hasn’t been held since 2019.

“If we are able to, we’ll be hosting it at Glen Erin Golf Course at their new Celtic House,” said Jessica Locher, executive director at ECHO. “We bring in a band from Madison called Ladies Must Swing. It’s an all ladies, big brass band that performs stuff from the ’40s and ’50s.”

The nonprofit is also hoping to bring back its biggest fundraiser, Empty Bowls, an all-you-can-eat soup fundraiser. Locher hopes to have more information on events this coming February.

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