By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — For the 13th consecutive year, a group of about 40 friends held their annual “Friends of Wausau” food drive, delivering thousand pounds of food worth about $10,000 to local food pantries.

Jim Nick, the American Family Insurance agent and Wausau native who spearheaded the effort, said the group raised thousands more this year than in 2013, splitting the donations between The Neighbor’s Place and The Salvation Army. The group met Thursday afternoon at Trig’s to pick up the food, then drove a truck packed with supplies to both locations. Once there, volunteers worked together to unload trucks and stock the pantry shelves.

Trig’s donated $1,100 and offered the food at wholesale prices to maximize the group’s efforts, Nick said. The food distributed will help more than 200 families.

Last year’s food drive raised about $7,500.

“This is the most money we’ve ever raised,” said Nick, who also heads up a large-scale effort to help supply food, backpacks, shoes, and other essential supplies to homeless students in Wausau.

Nick said the “Friends of Wausau” group started 13 years ago when he emailed dozens of friends asking their help with a food drive. Since then, the effort has grown steadily, raising more money year after year to help people in need in the Wausau area.