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Small, everyday acts of kindness can make a long-term impact and inspire hope


February 25, 2022

Debby Leisner grew up in a Milwaukee suburb with two brothers and a single mom. Even as a child, she understood her family was poor, but never felt underprivileged. Her mother worked several jobs to provide  for her kids, but struggled to make ends meet. At one point she realized she needed to seek help. Debby and her family visited a food pantry in a local church basement. Walking in, they saw bags of groceries – cans, pantry staples and non-perishable items. As Debby and her family approached the bagged items, a nun looked at her and said, “We’ve got something special for you.” The nun reached up behind a back shelf, pulled down a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal and handed it to Debby. That exchange stuck with Debby for a long time

Headshot of woman

Debby Leisner is VP of Business Operations at Widen, an Acquia Company, in Madison.

Reflecting on this moment, Debby shared that it stood out to her particularly as a moment of inspired hope. “It defined what hope could be; there will always be people that care and we are never alone,” Debby said. “It was a moment in my life where I felt hope and knew that everything would be okay.”

Debby shared that she gives back to share that spark of hope she felt in one experience as a nine-year-old. Her wish is that if one child can receive something special, something out of the ordinary just one time and feel that sense of fulfillment and promise, it will be worth it. “Sometimes we believe that extra can of food, that extra step to help someone won’t make a difference, but it will. It makes a difference to the person on the receiving end of that action,” Debby said.

Food insecurity is a large need across Dane County. With your support we will continue to provide help and hope to thousands of families this year. Please donate to our food pantry here. A child may find the same hope that Debby did.

Thanks to Debby sharing her story, PepsiCo shipped us 224 boxes of Cap’n Crunch cereal! We are so grateful for this unique item as we are proud to offer a wide variety of food. Beyond fresh produce, pantry staples, meat, dairy and eggs, yes, we do provide sweets and snacks!

Four volunteers and staff standing buy a pallet full of Cap'n Crunch cereal boxes, holding a sign which reads, "Thank you!" Full pallet of Cap'n Crunch cereal in cardboard boxes

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