There are so many ways to give back in the DeWitt community, especially during the holidays! What will inspire you to give or volunteer this season?
Toys For Tots – Three years ago I was asked to help with the Clinton County Toys For Tots Campaign. The Marines needed our help! So, I asked my brothers at the DeWitt Fire Department if they would be willing to assist with this great program for our local kids. Since that time, we have given out almost 1000 toys and served over 90 families in Dewitt alone. This year will be no different, over 45 children will receive 6-7 toys from our 2016 drive. We can’t do this without your help. Help support this program and drop an unwrapped, unopened toy for a child ages 6 months to 12 years at any of the drop off location listed below. The drive will go until December 14th. Box Locations: IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union & 1ST Gateway Credit Union, First Central State Bank, Dewitt United Methodist Church, Grace Lutheran Church, Dewitt Fire Department, Scott Drug, St. Joseph School, MJ’s East, Ekstrand Elementary, Central DeWitt Intermediate School, DeWitt City Hall, Theisen’s, and Frances Banta Waggoner Library .
Garey Chrones – Toys For Tots volunteer
The Giving Tree Program – This program is initiated by DeWitt’s Referral Center to help local children receive a gift for Christmas. The Referral Center prepares ornaments and DeWitt Junior Women picks the ornament tags up and delivers them to be displayed on trees at DeWitt Bank & Trust and First Central State Bank. There are several tags that have ages of the children, gender, and needed/wanted items on the tags. You don’t have to purchase each item listed and you can spend as much or as little as you wish. This program is an excellent way to give back to the local community. I feel this is also a educational opportunity, by involving your children in the giving, it is a great reminder to all what the true meaning of Christmas really is. Last week, I took my two children to Theisen’s to purchase the Giving Tree gifts and they had a great time picking out gifts for another child. Next time you are in DeWitt Bank & Trust or First Central State Bank, take a look at the Giving Tree and get inspired to grab a tag for a local child in need!
Amber Ernst – DeWitt Junior Women
DeWitt Referral Center – The Referral Center assists those in need in the Central DeWitt School District. The needs are many and varied including food, housing assistance, clothing, gas for traveling to a job, Christmas toys and more. The Referral Center is a non-profit organization that is governed by a Board of Directors.
At this time the 2016 Referral Center Holiday Food Box & Gift Drive is underway. Last year 173 children receive gifts, and 145 Families received Holiday Food Boxes. Volunteers are still needed to assist with the drive setup at the DeWitt Community Center on Dec. 12th & 13th between 8am – 5pm and on Dec. 14th from 8am – Noon to distribute items. Please call the Referral Center at 563-659-9612 if you would like to volunteer and help ensure that this year’s drive will be the best yet!
The Referral Center also operates a resale shop year round that is open to the public, where individuals may donate or purchase items. Donations of clothing, furnishings, food and cash donations are always appreciated. All donations are tax deductible.
Michelle Ehlinger – Referral Center Director & Jan Nelson – Referral Center Board Member
From Cover to Cover – We are a non-profit agency co-founded by two graduates of Central DeWitt, Christina Kitchen and Gina Ryan Schlicksup. We began our mission 3 years ago by starting a “Snuggle Up and Read” campaign, to advocate literacy through the donation of homemade fleece tie blankets with a brand new book to at-risk children in the community. To date, there has been over 1,000 blanket sets and 5,000 books donated.
The From Cover to Cover Clinton County chapter was launched in October 2016 and is in the infancy stage. Our first project is one hefty undertaking, but as the chapter chair I know it can be done when living in a community as supportive as DeWitt! The project, “Book Angel Program” is in full-swing. You will see Christmas trees lined with bookmarks at Thiel Motors, Flowers on the Side, First Central State Bank, Snap Fitness and St. Joseph Church. To participate in the program simply visit one of the locations mentioned and choose a bookmark from the tree. The bookmark indicates the reading level and gender of a book you can purchase to be given to local children (ages range from pre-K to 8th Grade). Books, with the bookmark inside, are brought back to the location the bookmark was picked up at and dropped in the donation bins marked “From Cover to Cover”. The goal of the program is to provide every child at Ekstrand Elementary and St. Joe’s Catholic School (that is over 700 students), a brand new book at Christmas time. Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated and donations can be made at First Central State Bank to: From Cover to Cover Clinton County.
Our mission may be to promote literacy, but we have quickly learned that the journey is about so much more. It is about showing kindness and compassion. It is about providing a comforting gift and encouraging the next generation to be the best they can be. There is much work to be done here but with the help of our wonderful community, we can continue to make a difference one book and blanket at a time!
Christina Kitchen, From Cover to Cover co-founder
Shop with a Cop – The DeWitt Police Department is committed to the philosophy of community policing. Our goal is to implement programs that prevent crime and increase the public’s trust in the quality and professionalism of our service, while building lasting relationships in our community. Through a partnership with a group of caring citizens, the DeWitt Police Foundation, a non-profit organization was established to promote crime prevention, public safety, and education to the community. This foundation works to promote the quality of life in DeWitt by providing a charitable organization that can fund public safety initiatives that tax dollars may not always be able to fund.
One example of how the DeWitt Police Department works to accomplish this goal is the “Shop with a Cop” program. Created five years ago, the program’s initial intent was to address the image officers sometime leave children with after they are forced to take action during certain situations. For example, an arrest of a parent/guardian in a domestic violence case. Due to this, the purpose became not only to repair the image of the officer, but to be proactive and build a stronger rapport with the youth in our community before negative situations occurred.
The DeWitt Police Department believes that in order to break the cycle that leads youths to criminal behavior; it requires an active effort from all by being positive role models for our youth. The “Shop with a Cop” program has helped accomplish this by building trust and friendship while teaching respect and instilling values. During the event, participating children are paired with a police officer who will give the children a ride in a police car ride to Theisen’s where they will purchase gifts for themselves and their family. After shopping the children are transported by police car to the community center where they are met by Citizen Police Academy (CPA) alumni. The CPA alumni help the child/officer wrap gifts and many times there is a visit from Santa who bring stockings full of goodies for them. The children have pizza and watch a Christmas movie to finish the day. The smiling faces and positive energy the children display when their parent/guardian picks them up greatly benefits all of the participants and volunteers.
This type of program would not be possible without the kindness and willingness of volunteers and the business community that devote time, energy and economic resources to make this event a successful. For more information about how to become involved in the DeWitt Police Foundation or the Citizen Police Academy please contact the DeWitt Police Department at (563)-659-3145.
Chief David Porter – DeWitt Police Department