MUSCATINE, Iowa–Though the weather may have turned sharply colder last week, it did not put a freeze on activities to support the Salvation Army of Muscatine County’s Red Kettle Campaign. The Battle of the Badges, Besties, and Birthdays continued as planned with a surprise polar plunge added by the Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office.
At the end of November, Ashley Loveless, public relations director for Pearl City Media, announced the Battle of the Badges, Besties, and Birthdays to raise money for the Salvation Army. In competition with Whitni Pena and Angela Shoultz of the Muscatine Police Department, Loveless and Muscatine County Sheriff’s Office Detective Jake McCleary would face off to see who could raise the most money. As an added challenge, Loveless and McCleary pledged to raise $7,200 by the end of the day Dec. 16, their shared birthday.
To help the duo meet their goal, the Sheriff’s Office held an impromptu polar plunge fundraiser Dec. 15. On a “balmy” 28 degree afternoon, Sheriff C. J. Ryan, Chief Deputy Ardyth Slight, Sheriff Elect Quinn Riess, Captain Matt McCleary, Lieutenant Nick Doy, Detective Jake McCleary, and Deputies Jon Wolf, Dominic Wheeler, Zach Lane, Austin Sink, and Colton Miller, along with Salvation Army Lieutenant Greg Bock all ran into one of the lakes at Deep Lakes Park. Amazed at their willingness to help out a good cause, Loveless marveled, “you dare them to do something, and it’s for a good cause, and they all show up!”
The following day, Loveless climbed into the big red kettle to finish her fundraising efforts. Though McCleary had planned to join her, one of his kids got sick, sidelining him. However, Loveless still felt determined to meet their joint goal. “I really want to beat the Muscatine Police Department now, and my bestie with the restie, Angela Shoultz. It’s really competitive now!”
Fun aside, Loveless also hoped to bring in a large showing of support for all of the people in the county who benefit from the Salvation Army’s programs, “the real winner at the end of the day will truly be our community, the whole of Muscatine county,” she stressed: “The money that is raised will stay local and help local people that are our neighbors and friends and maybe even family and truly make a difference in their lives. I’m excited to be just a tiny little part of making sure they’re cared for for the rest of the year.”
Though the weather proved nippy, Loveless braved the elements and remained in the kettle until she broke her goal, netting a total of $2,218 for the day, bringing her and McCleary’s virtual kettle to $10,200 total.
At the end of the day, Loveless felt grateful for all the people who helped her make a difference in Muscatine County: “I think it is so cool how as a community, each of us is a puzzle piece that makes it all work. Some people are able to give a monetary donation, some people are able to give their time or talents to help, and then some of us are able to shout from the tops of kettles! No matter what piece of the puzzle you are, they are all important.”