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Character Counts Week 2011 is Oct. 16-22

This is the ideal time show a positive attitude and ‘Pay it Forward’

October 9, 2011
Messenger News

Mayor Matt Bemrich will be proclaiming Character Counts Week in Fort Dodge at the Monday City Council meeting and asking all citizens to help support our troops by donating much needed items.

Every year, the U.S. president, U.S. Congress and officials around the world proclaim the third week in October Character Counts Week. Last year 8 million kids in 54 countries participated. No matter what your political or religious affiliation, this event is about the universal values we share. It is the perfect opportunity to highlight the Six Pillars of Character throughout our community by Paying it Forward.

What are we doing in Fort Dodge?

Thanks to Trinity Regional Medical Center and the Healthy Living Department, we are making a difference in our homes, schools, businesses and organizations with Truckin' For The Troops. This is the third year that we are challenging everyone in Fort Dodge to Pay it Forward during Character Counts Week by making a difference to someone, somewhere.

"Pay It Forward" is a book written by Catherine Ryan Hyde about a young boy's attempt to make the world a better place by paying a favor forward, encouraging others to repay good deeds with new good deeds, creating a chain of positive actions.

The concept of bringing this project to Fort Dodge was unanimously accepted by the members of the TRMC Character Counts board of directors. They invite six organizations to participate in the annual Pay it Forward event. These organizations are provided with seed money for the sole purpose of making a difference to a person, a family, or an organization in need. The six organizations were chosen to parallel the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.

How will we be paying it forward this year?

Character Counts in Fort Dodge is partnering with O'Halloran International to participate in Truckin' For The Troops.

Truckin' For The Troops

We are asking all Fort Dodge citizens to make a difference during Character Counts Week 2011 by Paying It Forward for our Iowa troops. Character Counts in Fort Dodge is partnering with O'Halloran International to help get care packages to Iowa troops serving overseas with Truckin' for the Troops.

We will be collecting items at the Gael football game Friday and the Dodger Football game Oct. 21 at Dodger Stadium. A Truckin' For The Troops banner will be on the side of an O'Halloran truck parked outside the stadium gates for each game.

Look for the signs posted all around town saying: "Character Counts! in Fort Dodge Pay it Forward HERE!" Schools, businesses and other organizations are collecting for the troops. Items will be accepted at the following locations in Fort Dodge from Oct.1 - 21:

Citizens Community Credit Union

Fair Oaks Middle School

Fort Dodge Area Chamber of Commerce

Fort Dodge Ford

Fort Dodge Senior High

Friendship Haven

Frontier Communications

Hy-Vee Food Store

KHI Financial

NEW Cooperative

Northwest Bank

O'Halloran International

Phillips Middle School

St. Edmond High School and Elementary School

St. Pauls School

Trinity Regional Medical Center

Wells Fargo Bank

Looking for Iowa soldiers

The program also needs your help supplying names of Iowa soldiers serving overseas. If you know of someone and can gather contact information including name, address and email address we will be able to pass that along to program coordinators so that care packages are sent to those soldiers as well or email the information to Pam Bunte at

All items will be collected in an O'Halloran International truck devoted to Truckin' For The Troops and then stored in a Decker trailer until the end of October for packaging and mailing to the troops. Frontier Communications has offered a room to package the supplies for shipping and volunteers will be needed to help assemble items for an entire unit.

Hy-Vee Food Store is also offering to do the shopping for you and will have prepackaged bags with items that the soldier can use for $5 and $10 per bag. Once purchased, Hy-Vee will have a collection spot for you to drop off the bag at the store. This a very easy way to show you support for our troops.

Karlos Kirby presentations

O'Halloran International has also offered presentations on Citizenship and Afghanistan, in both public and private Fort Dodge schools, by Olympian Karlos Kirby. In 1992, Karlos Kirby became the first athlete from the state of Iowa to ever compete in an Olympic Winter Games. A five-time national champion, three-time medalist in the world championships, overall World Cup champion, and a two-time member of the U.S. Olympic bobsled team (Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994), Kirby has proven himself as one of the world's best bobsledders.

Kirby is currently a firefighter and paramedic for the city of Des Moines. In addition to his full-time duties as a firefighter, Kirby spends an active amount of time as an officer in the United States Navy Reserve. Recently, Kirby returned from 12 months of active duty in Afghanistan where he served as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

He will bring his experience and knowledge on Afghanistan and citizenship to Fort Dodge on Tuesday and Oct 17 by speaking to kindergarten through 12th-graders about the importance of volunteerism, service to your country and lessons in Citizenship.

How can you help?

1. Review the care package item list.

2. Drop off items at the Gael or Dodger football games Friday and Oct. 21 or any of the community locations listed.

3. Help us locate Iowa Troops serving overseas. Email Pam Bunte at with the name, address and email of an Iowa soldier serving overseas. She will add them to the list of troops to receive a package for their unit.

Thanks to all the Fort Dodger's who participate in Pay it Forward during Character Counts Week and Truckin' For The Troops.

Your positive attitude is contagious. Remember that good character encompasses all aspects of our daily life - youth and adult sports organizations, civic and service organizations, businesses and our faith community.

I invite you to Pay it Forward all year and thank you for choosing to make a difference.

Pam Bunte is the Character Counts coordinator in Fort Dodge.



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