MUSCATINE, Iowa-In late November of 2020, not long before Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army of Muscatine kicked off their annual Red Kettle Campaign. In a year upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, they did not know what to expect, and set a goal of raising $190,000, close to the total amount of funds they raised in 2019. Through both in person and virtual kettles, they hoped to raise the money they would need to fund their expenses for the year ahead and continue offering community outreach programming.
Hearing the Salvation Army’s call for support, people from across the county came together to help them raise a total of $310,499.51, far exceeding their original goal. Throughout the month of December, members of the Muscatine County Sheriffs Office, Muscatine Fire Department, and Muscatine Police Department held bell ringing days and sat out in the big red kettle, and even held an impromptu polar plunge. On a cold and snowy night, Impact Athletic Performance Owner Scott Schultz did a challenge outside at the red kettle where he pledged to do a burpee for every dollar donated with a goal of raising $1,000. As word got out on social media about his challenge, students from his gym, members of the Muscatine High School golf team, Pastor Ty Thomas of Calvary Church, members of the Calvary youth group, and even some Hy-Vee employees came out to join him. Together, they raised $2,110.
Looking back over the whole season, Lieutenant Greg Bock shared that the event that stuck with him the most was the way members of the fire department, police department, and sheriff’s office came together to cover his week living in the kettle for him while he helped take care of his sick wife and children. “I was unsure of what I was going to do, because last year our biggest kettle numbers came during that last week when I lived in the kettle,” he recalled: “So, I decided to do a Facebook Live video to see if anyone would be willing to stay in the kettle for me.”
Only a few minutes later, Muscatine County Sheriff Elect Quinn Reiss arrived and, as Bock put it, “did what first responders do best – he “rescued Christmas” that night.” Over the course of the next day, Bock got enough volunteers from all Muscatine’s first responders to cover the nights he needed to get away from the kettle and help his family.
Reflecting on the success of this year’s Red Kettle Campaign, Bock expressed a deep gratitude to the many people throughout the county who contributed to it: “The Salvation Army didn’t raise this money by ourselves, but it was donated by people all across this community and beyond who care about those who need a hand up when the going gets tough. The fact that individuals, groups, clubs, churches, etc. gave as much as they did during a time when we all experienced some sort of ‘loss’ just shows that even in the darkest times, we all have a little light to shine.”