Boots vs. Badges supports Austin Strong Foundation

By:  Kim Brooks

Express Editor

Boots? Or Badges?

The Monticello Police Department and Monticello Fire Department are partnering with the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center to host a blood drive on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Who will get the most donors? Boots vs. Badges?

The blood drive will be held from 3:30-7:30 p.m. in the cafeteria inside Monticello Middle School.

 Monticello Police Chief Britt Smith said they were approached by the Mississippi Valley Blood Center to hold a blood drive in the area, of which the Center covers.

“A campaign like this generates donors,” said Smith. Utilizing both the police and fire departments, with established footholds in the community, you also have a plethora of participants. “It sparks interest,” added Smith.

Smith explained Mississippi Valley keeps blood donations local, throughout Eastern Iowa.           

 “They support local hospitals,” he said. “So everyone wins.”

Monticello Firefighter Nick Kahler said typically during the winter months, blood donations decrease. So this event was also a way to boost donations.

 “It’s done in quite a few different places,” said Kahler of the Boots vs. Badges campaign. “People who probably do not donate normally come out to support the cause. We’re able to pull from different markets.”

Those wishing to donate blood on Jan. 3 can sign up ahead of time or simply walk in the day of the event. It’s important to pledge your donation under either the MPD of the MFD. The department that has the most donors at the end of the evening is named the winner.

 “For each unit of blood (donated) we get a kick-back,” Smith explained. Mississippi Blood Center will donate funds, which, in turn, the winning department will donate to the Austin Strong Foundation. From there, the Foundation will use the money to purchase something of need at Shannon Elementary School in memory of Austin Smith. Austin passed away in 2016 at the age of 6 from cancer.

 “Austin went to school there and loved school,” Smith said of his son.

Kahler said the Blood Center actually wanted to find a way to incorporate the Austin Strong Foundation into a blood drive.

 “They know of our connections,” Smith said.

The Blood Center donates to area hospitals, including the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Austin received blood platelets from the UIHC.

 “Austin had two transfusions of platelets as he was going through chemo(therapy),” shared Smith. “There are a variety of reasons why people need blood, and cancer is just one of those reasons.”

You can sign up now by contacting the Monticello Emergency Response Center at 319-465-3526 or visit You can also follow either the MPD or the MFD’s Facebook pages and follow the link to sign up online.

 “Walk-ins are welcome,” encouraged Kahler. “They are anticipating a lot of foot traffic.”