Cookin’ for a Cause raises funds for Howard family

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Trish Salinas makes a purchase from the Cookin’ for a Cause food trailer on Thursday in downtown Alpena. The volunteers for Cookin’ for a Cause raise money for local groups and other charitable causes. On Thursday, it raised funds for the family of Cal Howard, who passed away last week. Howard was a staple in the community and had a strong passion for Alpena.

ALPENA –Cookin’ for a Cause is a nonprofit, charitable organization which utilizes a food trailer and a host of volunteers to raise money for many fundraising efforts. The nonprofit also donates food and drinks to first responders while they are at the scene of large emergencies.

Cookin’ for a Cause was the brainchild of John Knapp and, over the years, it has helped raise thousands of dollars for causes all over northern Michigan.

“It is open to any group that needs to raise funds, who can’t afford a trailer like this,” Knapp said. “My volunteers cook, buy the product, work the windows and service organizations get the profits. Every year we donate between $2,000 and $3,000 from about 12 events a year, back to the community.”

The food trailer serves hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos and other types of food.

Knapp said some prior fundraisers were for scouts in Lewiston, concerts at the Bay View Park bandshell, cancer groups and church functions.

On Thursday, the Cookin’ for a Cause volunteers were raising money for the family of Cal Howard, who passed away last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer. The trailer was set up downtown in the parking lot owned by Jeff Konczek or Alpena Marc LLC.

Knapp said Howard loved Alpena and the people in the community and devoted a lot of time to making a difference in it. He said Howard was heavily involved with the Jets football and Forgotten Heroes programs, as well as being a loyal member of the Kiwanis and Optimist clubs. Knapp said Howard loved to write music and perform with his musician buddies whenever he had an opportunity.

Overall, Knapp said Howard would do everything in his power to make the lives of people better and to strengthen the community. Howard was also a devout Christian who loved to share the story of Jesus with others.

“He supported and helped in anyway he could for anything that was used to promote Alpena, as well as to promote Christ in people’s lives,” Knapp said. “He was a positive, motivated person who wanted to help make things happen in Alpena. People like Cal are hard to replace when we lose them. He was a special person who loved life.”

Knapp said people who couldn’t stop at the Cookin’ for a Cause food trailer on Thursday but would still like to donate to the Howard family can drop it off at his State Farm Insurance office on Ripley Boulevard during its regular business hours.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at or 989-358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.