Carol Berg-Kappel Retires 6-Year Pizza Fundraiser
by Kaylin Speth – This winter, after six years and 6,800 pizzas, a popular pizza fundraiser comes to a close, leaving behind a legacy of $50,000 raised for many community causes.
“It’s hard to know that it’s ending,” said lead organizer Carol Berg-Kappel. A retired pizza shop owner and Middle School custodian, she said that after seventeen fundraisers, she’s ready to step down.
The final sale benefited the Marshfield Middle School Literacy Garden project, and such is the popularity of the sales that the 400 available pizzas were sold out within two hours.
“We still support the farming community and have always used real cheese,” she said. “Everything we use are the ingredients I used at the store, and not of lesser quality. I think that’s why [the fundraiser] was so popular.” The total amount of cheese used for the pizzas over the years adds to around 4,400 pounds, and the sauce is Berg-Kappel’s secret recipe.
The first pizza sale was a learning process, but since then, coordinating dozens of volunteers and assembling pizzas is down to a science.
“We’re out of there by noon, cleanup and everything,” said lead volunteer Janice Moen. “Her volunteers are usually the same group of people.”
Lead volunteers take charge of a segment of the pizza-making and lead their own groups in measuring cheese to the right ounce and wrapping each pizza just right. Within two hours, hundreds of pizzas are assembled and ready to be picked up by noon.
Moen said that while the sales are hard work, they will be missed. “Nobody can pick up the reins, what sells it is Carol,” she said. “It’s not so much about the pizza. It’s the causes that she selects that are so important to the people.”
Giving back to the community has been a large part of Berg-Kappel’s life, and it’s perhaps not a surprise that she would turn to pizzas as a way to fundraise. While operating Real Pizza on the corner of 14th and Central Ave for thirty years from 1978 to 2008, she sold pizzas, subs, and salads with her sister Gloria.
After closing the business, she spent the next several years as caregiver for her sister until Gloria died in August 2011. Grieving over her death, meaning came again by returning to pizza-making, this time to fundraise for causes that her sister would have approved of.
“My purpose became that I would give back to the community that supported me for thirty years,” Berg-Kappel explained. “It just goes to show the difference that one person makes, and that person would have been Gloria, because without her death this wouldn’t have happened. I would never have thought of doing this if it hadn’t had to fill that void.”
Berg-Kappel organized her first fundraiser in March 2012 and enlisted the help of her son’s Leadership Marshfield class. That time they sold 600 pizzas, the proceeds benefiting the new homeless shelter.
Given the great success of the fundraiser, many organizations expressed interest in having a sale. Berg-Kappel took up the challenge and did five large fundraisers for causes like the K-9 fund, Special Olympics Torch Run, and MACY, once making 1,070 pizzas and organizing a hundred volunteers. The time and effort was like being back in business, she said.
Her favorite cause to fundraise for was the Honor Flight, something her dad had been able to do and a privilege she wanted to repay. The pizzas raised $5,000, which sent thirteen veterans on a flight. The fundraisers were later scaled down to 400 pizzas, but they still saw great success.
During her time as custodian at the Middle School, which she attended through 10th grade when the building still acted as the high school, Berg-Kappel also had the idea to do small sales in the Home Ec room. “I would laugh about it because who knew, fifty years later, I’d still be in that kitchen?”
Other sales were done at the American Legion, a partnership which has worked out well. “They’ve been so good to us,” she said.
When Berg-Kappel’s brother passed away in May 2015, she wondered whether or not to end the fundraising. “After losing two siblings, it would have been easy to say, we can’t do this anymore,” she said. “But he always said, ‘keep doing your sales because they keep you connected to who you were.’”
A fundraiser later that year raised money to plant trees at Wildwood Park to replace ones cut down due to storm damage and disease. The special cause was inspired by her young grandson, who was disturbed by the loss of trees. Berg-Kappel coordinated many of the details in her dad’s apartment to include him in the process, and completed the sale just a day before he passed.
“Then I thought, okay, maybe this is enough, but I know dad loved them,” she said.
For the final fundraiser, Berg-Kappel decided to raise money for a cause of personal importance: The Marshfield Middle School Literacy Garden campaign.
The Literacy Garden is a planned learning sanctuary that will function as an outdoor classroom and hangout spot before and after school. Located in front of the Middle School building, the gardens will be used also as an incentive for good students to enjoy during study hall and can also be used by the community outside of school hours.
“We can see it being used Friday night during the football game,” said Middle School principal Mike Nicksic. Maintenance of the gardens will be partially completed by students as a hands-on learning opportunity.
Berg-Kappel took charge of starting the fundraising for the gardens, expected to be implemented and completed in June 2018. A graduate of Leadership Marshfield class of 1993, she used the skills she learned then to help with the campaign.
She said that the leadership became a team of the custodians and Nicksic, and together they worked hard to launch the campaign.
“I even wrote some grants, something I thought I could never do,” Berg-Kappel said. The staff at the Middle School and parents joined the project and planned fundraisers. There will be a Culver’s night on January 29th with 10% of proceeds going toward the cost, and a Mcdonald’s fundraiser in April.
The project can still use more community support to reach a fundraising goal, which started at $25,000. “Right now it’s ideal if we could raise another $10,000. We’ve raised enough to initially build it,” said Nicksic. He is looking for parents to volunteer this summer to do some work with the gardens.
In Berg-Kappel’s experience, there are plenty of people willing to donate their time and talents when given an opportunity.
“We never had to beg, we had people just right there to be supportive. If they knew my cause, they were just supportive. That really says a lot,” she said. “I’m humble.”