Toro collects pallets of food and supplies for flood victims

On Sept. 10 the Toro Company in Tomah set up a semi to load supplies gathered and donated to be delivered to the late August, early September flooding. On Aug. 31 Toro issues a challenge to area businesses to help with local flood relief. Above a Toro employee secures the supplies on a pallet with plastic wrap before leading it into a semi.

Collections began Monday at the Toro Company in Tomah for supplies of water, non-perishable food, pet food and cleaning supplies for victims of recent flooding south of Tomah.

The donations have been amazing, said Chris Hacker, director of operations. He said donations tripled expectations.

“It’s turned out well,” he said. “I’m really pleased with how everything is going as we hoped it would ... It’s amazing, I’ve seen pallets and pallets and pallets of much-needed supplies being donated. It’s fascinating and super rewarding for us.”

Toro has also received donations of money, canned food, water and other supplies from cities as far away as Duluth, Minnesota; Rockford, Illinois; and Green Bay since Monday due to news coverage of the donation drive beginning Monday, Hacker said.

He said areas near Tomah were devastated, but until the news coverage, people from outside the area, especially in larger cities, didn’t know how extensive the damage was because the affected communities are small.

By Wednesday an equivalent of 2 ½ trailers had been filled with supplies, Hacker said. He expects that to rise to three trailers by Friday, when the drive ends.

Since the donation drive began, Toro has shipped trailers to Elroy and Mauston with plans to ship another to Ontario, Hacker said.

The supplies have been broken up according to what each community needs, he said. For example Elroy has enough clean water, so it received non-perishable food, pet food and cleaning supplies, while Mauston received water, cleaning supplies, pet food and non-perishable food.

Hacker said Toro decided to host this donation drive because of its employees, many of whom live in the flooded areas.

“Without them there is no company,” he said. “We have a significant number of employees, roughly one-third in our case, impacted by this.”

Hacker said Toro was “compelled to do something, and we wanted to make sure that what we did was big enough that it didn’t just provide relief to our employees but relief to our employees and their family and community; it had to be of scale ... So we came up with the Toro Challenge — we said we can’t be the only town that has employees from surrounding areas, so we wanted to band together and see what we can do collectively.”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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