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Muscatine man living in red kettle until Salvation Army raises $180,000

Muscatine Salvation Army Lt. Greg Bock waves to Muscatine Hy-Vee customers as they pass by his giant red kettle on Wedne
Muscatine Salvation Army Lt. Greg Bock waves to Muscatine Hy-Vee customers as they pass by his giant red kettle on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. He promised to stay there until the Muscatine Salvation Army raises $180,000. (Kevin E. Schmidt/Quad-City Times)

MUSCATINE — Lt. Greg Bock climbed into a giant red kettle Wednesday and promised to stay there until the Muscatine Salvation Army raises $180,000.

The giant Salvation Army red kettle was made by Hoffman Fabrication and made its debut earlier this month at Muscatine’s Holiday Stroll.

Bock said $51,144 has been raised so far. Muscatine’s first responders, Grant School’s Student Leadership Team and staff from the Muskie Early Learning Center have been among the many who have rang the bell to get that far. There also was a merry surprise last week, when an anonymous donor donated a pure gold coin weighing 1/10th of an ounce valued at $190.

“It’s just a total blessing,” Bock said. “We find coins in the kettle that are pretty unique, like the steel pennies from 1943 or different kinds of 1800 coins. But when a gold coin comes in, it just gives us a ton of excitement, and it’s always cool to look it up and see how much it’s worth.”

Despite these efforts, Muscatine Salvation Army needs to raise about $129,000 to reach its annual goal. So Bock will sleep, eat and hang out in the big kettle for what he calls the “$180K by Christmas Day Red Kettle Stay.”

The kettle is stationed at Hy-Vee in Muscatine. Volunteers will be stationed next to him, to ring a bell and collect donations in a normal-sized kettle.

“I think me going up in the kettle is going to get a lot of attention, and even if we don’t reach our goal, it’s still a good chance for me to stand up there and sound the alarm on needs all across Muscatine County that people face,” Bock said.

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Bock did something similar while stationed in Cheboygan, Michigan. That year, his Salvation Army was $10,000 short of its goal. Living in a kettle brought attention, and he raised the money in five days. It is a bit extreme and unusual, Bock admits, but people in need struggle in extremes daily. So if he must suffer a few nights in the cold to help them, “bring it on.”

Bock said the obsolescence of cash has hurt donations. People carry credit and debit cards, and pay for purchases with apps, so they don’t carry pocket change. Creating a Salvation Army donation app may seem a perfect solution, he said, but it would be harder to keep the money donated in Muscatine.

“People don’t really carry cash, but I’m hoping once they know what the need is they’ll intentionally carry it when they go shopping,” he said. “Or they’ll get cash back at the register so they can donate as they’re heading out.”

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