story by Kim Souza
Steve Schotta, director for the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter, was on Monday (June 23) handed the keys to a new Chevrolet 3500 cutaway van with a 15-foot cargo box attached. The shelter is one of the local charities to benefit from this year’s LPGA-Walmart NW Arkansas Challenge event which will run through Sunday at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.
“Our old cargo van had around 298,000 miles and it didn’t hold much product. This new box truck will allow us to pick-up palletized donations around the region. Even though the state places the children in our care, they only fund about 25% of the costs associated that care. Without the help of many corporate donors we would not be able to do it,” Schotta said.
The shelter has had the large truck on its wish list, but did not have the budget for the large purchase, according to Schotta. The shelter operates with a $3.5 million annual budget and Schotta said they will serve 50,000 meals this year. During the 20 years the shelter has existed, more than 7,200 children have been served.
The new box truck is valued at $50,000 and fits nicely with this year’s tournament theme “Drive for Hope.” It was veteran LPGA player Liselotte “Lotta” Neumann, who has 13 LPGA wins to her credit including a U.S. Open Woman’s Open title in 1988, who presented Schotta the keys to the new box truck on half of the LPGA.
“If feels good to give back to the community and further causes like this shelter,” Neuman said.
With this new larger truck, Schotta said, they will be able to more easier pickup in-kind donations that help us stretch out budget.
“Our old van could only hold a couple of pallets and we would have to take the items off the pallets during transport and then restock them back on the pallets when they arrived at our warehouse.”
Tournament sponsors Proctor & Gamble, General Mills, Kimberly Clark and Mondelez International filled the truck with pallets of donated products on Friday (June 20). Todd Hanus, customer vice president at Mondelez, said his local team of 38 ordered the product shipped to their office and they loaded the truck on Friday with food, including healthy snacks as well as Oreos, Teddy Grams and other comfort items.
“We are a food company, and while this team may do more outreach than other teams, it’s part of our corporate mission. Through giving we can see the real needs in our local community. The children’s shelter is a mission we feel strongly about helping throughout the year, Hanus said.
Jay Allen, tournament chairman, said the LPGA event is about “quality of life in Northwest Arkansas” and during the week there will be a local gift presented each day to a charity.
“This year this tournament will top $2 million in gifts given back to the community since we have been hosting here,” Allen said.
On Tuesday (June 24) the Walmart Foundation will present a $450,000 grant to the Northwest Arkansas Council to support the council’s projects. The ceremony will be in the Five & Dime Suite on the 18th Hole at the Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.
Allen said the other gifts throughout the week will come directly from the tournament and its sponsors.