The fourth annual Wheeler family chili/soup fundraiser for the Sharing Bucket is scheduled to take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, at Community Christian Church, 1919 S. Horton.
Each year, local residents Don and Claudia Wheeler organize the event, which raises money to help local cancer patients and their families. The couple do volunteer work with the Care to Share group and the Sharing Bucket, a related nonprofit organization that provides emotional and financial assistance to cancer patients and their families.
The feed is definitely a family affair; three generations of the Wheeler family help make and serve meals, and they get help from the "Sharing Angels," volunteers who support the Sharing Bucket.
"The products are donated by businesses and individuals," Claudia said. "My husband and I make the soup and chili, and we get volunteers to help serve it and donate desserts and stuff."
This year, Claudia said she will also get help prepping for the event. All items needed for the event are donated, which helps keep expenses down.
Joining in on the effort is the Wheelers' daughter, Tami Flater, and their grandchildren, Lauren Flater and Michael Flater.
Claudia said dine-in, delivery and carry-out options will be available. Volunteers will deliver meals within the city limits of Fort Scott. The menu for the event will include chili, broccoli and cheese soup, and a variety of desserts and drinks.
The event is free to attend, however, organizers are requesting a free-will donation, with all proceeds benefiting the Sharing Bucket.
The Wheelers became involved with the Care to Share group a few years ago and together with their daughter created the fundraiser. While Claudia has never had cancer, her husband has fought the disease in the past, and they have various other family members who have been affected.
"My husband had a couple of bouts with cancer," she said. "Both of our mothers died from cancer. My uncle had two bouts with cancer."
Claudia said the couple enjoy putting together the fundraiser each year simply because of the joy they receive from helping others, and because proceeds benefit local residents dealing with cancer.
"The money stays locally, and there's such a need for the help," she said. "I don't know what people would do if we didn't have a Sharing Bucket. It would definitely make a hardship on them ... and we enjoy doing it."
Care to Share consists of volunteers who assist Bourbon County cancer patients, survivors and caregivers with treatment and health care. In the Sharing Bucket project, group members use funds raised locally to assist local cancer patients with expenses such as fuel, transportation, food, utility bills, hotel stays and other items pertaining to treatment.
"We find out what their needs are," Claudia said. "A big one is gas money to go take treatments. We furnish transportation, too."
The goal of the Sharing Bucket is to answer a request for help within 24 hours and uses donations and memorials to accomplish that objective.
Claudia said organizers are preparing food for about 300 people. She said she's not sure how many people the event attracted last year, but it raised about $2,300.
"We've always sold out," she said. "In the event we don't sell out, we take the extra soup and chili, freeze it up and take it to families who need it, so nothing goes to waste."
For more information, to place an early order, or to help with the fundraiser, call Claudia at (620) 215-4846, or Don at 215-4845.
"It takes a few people to put this on and make it a success," Claudia said. "And we want it to continue to be a success because it helps so many people."