Friendly Competition between the Jackson Fire and Police Departments Aims High
When Lieutenants David and Cheryl Moynihan began their command of The Salvation Army of Jackson, Tennessee, in June, the couple immediately began thinking of how they could get to know their new community and prepare for the important red kettle season.
As experienced commanding officers, they knew how essential the money raised during the holiday season is to The Salvation Army programs needed in their new community.
“This is something every officer is looking for – ways to make ringing the bells fun. Trying to strike a friendly competition is one way to create fun. We approached the Police Department and the Fire Department here and they loved the idea,” Lt. Cheryl Moynihan said.
The idea became an event that will take place on Saturday, December 9, 2017, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Walmart North in Jackson. The “Battle of the Bells” is billed as the “City of Jackson Fire Department vs. The Jackson Fire Department – Jackson’s finest competition to bring hope to those in need this Christmas.” Flyers for the event encourage the community to “Come show your support for your favorite department.”
“There will be a fire truck on one end and police cars on the other end. The police department is having volunteer shifts every two hours. The fire department has an education unit that goes into schools. Rico Bryson has many media outlet connections and has gotten publicity out through public service announcements and other ways. He has helped a lot in spreading the word,” Moynihan said.
The Commanding officer said it is not uncommon for groups to get in on a friendly red kettle bell competition. In addition to police and fire departments, sometimes Rotary groups, Kiwanis groups, Sunday schools, local banks, and law firms get involved.
“I’m glad David and Cheryl reached out. This is our first annual Battle of the Bells with The Salvation Army. We are participating for two reasons: First, to bring awareness to all the good The Salvation Army does in Jackson. Our second reason is to help the Fire Department and Police Department to raise funds for underprivileged kids so they can have a special Christmas. We haven’t set a specific dollar amount we are trying to raise since this is our first year but we hope to raise a great deal to be able to purchase lots of toys and to positively impact our community,” Rico Bryson, Public Education Coordinator, City of Jackson Fire Department, said.
Lt. Cheryl Moynihan said she loves when community groups commit to a friendly Battle of the Bells competition.
“For them, it’s really not about the competition. It’s about raising as much money as possible to help us with our community mission. The groups get excited and start spreading information about the Battle of the Bells by word of mouth. The funds we raise first goes to making sure we can provide Christmas toys and food boxes to those in need through our Angel Trees. Then the monies go toward helping people in need with their utilities, rental assistance, transportation, and youth activities. It really is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Moynihan said.
Members of the Jackson Police Department and Fire Department personally know the help provided by The Salvation Army to their community.
“Both departments are in the community and The Salvation Army works closely with them for a variety of reasons. They know firsthand our hearts. They believe in the mission. They want to rally behind us,” Moynihan said.
Rico Bryson added to that sentiment.
“We see families in Jackson every day being devastated by fires, home invasions and other crimes. Often, these families don’t have insurance to pay for the things they’ve lost. We see firsthand how The Salvation Army steps in to help these families and we want to help them and do our part to give back to our community,” Bryson said.
The Jackson Police Chief, Julian Wiser, and the Jackson Fire Department Chief, Maxie Stewart, will be involved in a very special way.
“Whoever wins, the Chief has to present the Battle of the Bells trophy to the other Chief when we have our volunteer appreciation event for all those who helped us make our Christmas season successful. The event is usually around the first of March,” Moynihan said.
One of the programs the Red Kettle donations go towards is the Angel Tree Program.
“Our Angel Tree Program was developed to help families who are struggling to provide for their children. We invite those families in and find out how they need help. Those who are approved, we find out the clothing sizes of their children and two wishes each child has and hang those on the tree. This gives the public the opportunity to learn how many children are in need in their community. In the food box, we put enough for Christmas dinner and enough to get them through the Christmas season,” Moynihan said.
As important as the gift-giving part of the holiday season is, there is more involved with the donation drive.
“I want people to know it’s not just about making sure a child has toys. The Angel Tree Program sparks hope, even for the parents. The parents take the gifts home and present them to their kids. It is difficult for many parents to swallow their pride and ask for help. This is an opportunity for us to work alongside them and help them with their struggles through our ministry. It goes beyond the toys. We provide youth programs for the kids throughout the year. It changes lives,” Moynihan said.
The friendly competition is sure to raise money and awareness about the needs within the Jackson community.
“When someone donates to a red kettle, they are making a bigger impact in their community than they probably could imagine,” Moynihan said.
If you are interested in volunteering or donating to the event, go to http://salvationarmytennessee.org/jackson/ or call Lt. Moynihan at 731-422-1271 for additional information.