IOWA CITY — Use the crosswalk; get a cupcake. Pick up some trash; get some frozen yogurt.
The Iowa City Police Department and Iowa City Downtown District are teaming up to launch the #ThankYouIowaCity campaign. The endeavor, which kicks off Saturday, awards good behavior with cards that can be redeemed at participating businesses for treats or with the city for bus passes and free parking.
David Schwindt, the Iowa City Police Department’s downtown liaison officer, said the program has a two-pronged origin. It is partially born out of a dormant program the police department participated in a number of years ago, You’ve Been Caught, which awarded children a coupon for a Wendy’s Frosty for acts of good behavior.
The other inspiration came from a man Schwindt frequently witnessed making a mess downtown. Schwindt said one day, he saw the man sweeping up garbage with a broom. As a sign of gratitude, Schwindt offered to get the man a treat. He picked out some raspberry frozen yogurt.
“He told everybody about it,” Schwindt said.
It didn’t take long for Schwindt to be approached by others hoping for a treat in exchange for a good deed. The #ThankYouIowaCity campaign was born. Schwindt said he got the blessing of the downtown district and approached several businesses about participating with the goal of finding a range of low cost items.
“So there was something for everyone,” he said.
Schwindt said he doesn’t have a precise definition for what will qualify as a coupon-worthy act. He mentioned picking up litter or helping a delivery guy picking up some dropped boxes.
“Some sort of voluntary act of kindness in the downtown is kind of what I’m looking for,” he said.
Schwindt said he has printed off 100 cards that will serve as a pilot program. That will allow him to see how many of those cards are getting turned in, where they are being redeemed and make any tweaks for the second round, if necessary.
The participating businesses and what the card can be redeemed for are Yotopia Frozen Yogurt, Molly’s Cupcakes, The Java House, Iowa Book and Iowa City Transit and Parking.