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Cubbie Bear (video)
Bear of Character

Cubbie Bear demonstrates excellent character in all that he does and contributes to the community in a variety of ways. He has been seen at local libraries for story time with children, participating in charity events, and has visited many Iowa schools. Cubbie always tries to make good choices and encourages others to make good choices as well. Making good decisions is very important to him since so many people look to Cubbie as a role model. This is a responsibility he takes very seriously. Cubbie is very respectful and is friends with all of the umpires that go to Principal Park. He never argues with their calls and always shows good sportsmanship.

Denison Elementary School (video)
School of Character

Students at Denison Elementary School start their day off with the school motto and the Purple Hands Pledge. The Purple Hands Pledge is “I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others.” and the school motto reads “We will be responsible, do our best, and help the rest!”. Both the motto and the pledge are posted in every classroom.

Denison Elementary School is very involved in their community. Students have collected thousands of items for military care packages. Students make Veteran’s Day cards for the veterans in their county and invite them to have lunch at their school. Additionally, when the National Guard returned home from Iraq, Denison students lined the streets with signs and posters.

The Denison cafeteria is no ordinary school cafeteria – it is the Denison Elementary Character Cafe. To promote good manners in the cafeteria, the Character Cafe was introduced to students. Banners hang as a reminder of expected behavior, and students are able to earn a Character Cafe trophy when expectations are followed.

In addition to students serving as role models, Denison Elementary is also home to the Character Super Heros, which  includes Captain Citizenship, Mr. Trusy Trustworthy, Mrs. Rockin’ Responsibility, Mrs. Really Respectful, Mrs. Fabulous Fairness and Mrs. Consistently Caring. Their message is “if you follow all Six Pillars, our school will be TRRFCC!”.


Des Moines Kiwanis (video)
Organization of Character

The Des Moines Kiwanis have a rich history of giving in the Greater Des Moines community and have worked to create a better community through a variety of programs and are passionate about helping kids. The Des Moines Kiwanis have raised more than $1 million for local charities through their annual Basketball Jamboree. Proceeds from this event have been matched by the Ronald McDonald House Charities for the past eight years and have enabled the Kiwanis Club to support a mobile dental clinic, a toddler playground for the House of Mercy, Wildwood Hill’s equestrian grounds refurbishment project, campships for needy kids and much more.

The Kiwanis have also had a long standing relationship with Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines. Twenty years ago, when the Des Moines Public School developed its “Partners in Business” program, the Des Moines Kiwanis was the only non-business group to develop a relationship with a school. The Club started a K Kids Club to foster community service as early as fourth grade, provide individual tutoring, and assisted the school in various reading programs.

Recently, the Des Moines Kiwanis completed the Miracle League field, a baseball field which allows children with disabilities to play baseball. The Kiwanis spearheaded the $1 million project which includes a smooth, non-obstructed surface made of a special rubberized material. The project also includes a network of “buddies” to teach, assist and protect the players. The field is located in downtown Des Moines and opened this fall.


Dickinson County (video)

In 2005, the Okoboji Foundation hosted a county wide ‘Community Visioning Process’ in Dickinson County. Residents asked themselves questions like ‘who are we as a community?’ and ‘what do we want to become?’. A Steering Committee was organized to help the county’s vision that “everyone who lives, works and plays in Dickinson County will know that character counts!”. Dickinson County CHARACTER COUNTS! partners with individuals, families, and businesses to promote good character beyond the school years by offering county wide projects of character, providing character education and recognizing local citizens who consistently demonstrate the Six Pillars of Character.

Among the many county wide projects of character is the Pay It Forward in Dickinson County project. Six people with varied backgrounds were given $50 and a challenge to make a CHARACTER COUNTS! difference and after thirty days, an opportunity to share their stories with others. The results included a community event that served hundreds of soldiers and children in Iraq and another used the $50 to raise $2,400 for worthwhile causes. The Character Spotlight is a recognition of citizens who are nominated as TRRFCC examples who share their good character with other. The Dickinson County News and Lakes News Shopper publish and article in each county wide paper and each Spotlight recipient receives a specially framed certificate honoring their character. More than twenty deserving Dickinson county residents have been recognized.


Drake University Volleyball Team (video) 
Pursuing Victory With Honor

The Drake Volleyball team shows good character, both on and off of the court. Team members are always willing to volunteer in the community and speak to students about the Six Pillars of Character. In addition to being respectful to other teams, the team is also respectful to fans, officials, and coaches. Team members are committed to the responsibility that goes with the demands of Division I volleyball. Not only must they continue to sharpen their athletic skills, team members must balance their time so that they keep their education a priority. The Drake University Volleyball team strives to be good role models and positively reflect the University.


Herbert Hoover Elementary School (video)
School of Character

Hoover Elementary School has a unique character education program that is an integral part of the Hoover school climate. This program centers around the “Hoover Star”. All of the students learn the five “star points”: caring, courage, honest, respect and responsibility. Hoover Elementary School is involved in their community through pop tab collections for Ronald McDonald House, Cassies Mittens (mitten collection for needy children), Care Center visits, writing letters to service men and women, and collecting goods for the Crisis Center. Students also try to help others throughout our nation and world by raising funds for Hurricane Katrina victims and collecting books for African students.

Everyday good choices make Herbert Hoover Elementary School a positive and caring environment. Sometimes, when a student is “caught” making an especially good choice, he or she receives a Hoover star badge from the principal. Students also demonstrate their character through leadership opportunities. Hoover students can participate in the PAT (peer assistance team) program to help resolve issues on the playground, be a patrol guard, a lunch room table wiper, a student council member or a peer buddy to a student with special needs.


Iowa’s Rural Electric Cooperatives
Partner of the Year

CHARACTER COUNTS! In Iowa relies on the support of generous partners to fulfill our mission. Iowa’s Rural Electric Cooperatives (REC) has been a critical part of our success since 2002.

Iowa’s RECs have funded more than 75 trainings and workshops for educators and community members. These
sessions have allowed the Six Pillars of Character to be introduced to more than 1,000 education sites, and impacting thousands of Iowa teachers, students and parents.

Each summer, more of these sessions are scheduled due to the generosity of the RECs. The local REC staff is often on hand at the sessions to welcome the attendees and often provide lunch for all of the participants! Additionally, participants are often surprised with door prizes! Each of the RECs goes above and beyond to make the participant’s experience a positive one.


Robert Blue Middle School’s “CIA” (video)
School Organization of Character

The Character In Action (CIA) Agents have been promoting the Six Pillars at Robert Blue Middle School since 2002. Since then, CIA members began teaching weekly lessons promoting positive character messages to their peers. In addition to teaching responsibilities, the group annually identifies areas of need in the school and develops action plans to improve the climate of the school. CIA members have talked about a variety of character based ideas to their peers, including: respect is not revenge, think before you act, teamwork helps to achieve goals, have an attitude of gratitude and bullying is not respect. Because the CIA agendas are teaching their peers, integrity becomes an important part of serving as a CIA
agent. Students learn that to teach the good, they must live it through their daily actions. CIA agents have a variety of projects throughout the year including painting character themed murals, creating a student to student recognition system, carrying out a “Cultural Diversity Day” and much more.


Brian Carico (video)
Character Champion

Each year, Character Counts In Iowa honors an individual who has been an asset in promoting the Six Pillars of Character throughout our state. It is with pride that we present the 2008 Character Champion Award to Brian Carico of Johnston. As the Middle School principal, Brian hasstood strongly behind the importance of character education and believes that the Six Pillars are making a difference in his school.

Brian has also been key in the promotion of good sportsmanship in the Johnston Little League. The Little League and the Johnston Alliance for Character Development has teamed up for the past three years to recognize athletes that demonstrate the Six Pillars of Character.

Brian has also been a valuable resource to the Young Leaders of Character. He spent an entire week last June in the Drake University dorms to serve as a mentor for these high school volunteers.


Paul Hassman (video)
Citizen of Character

At 94, Paul Hassman is the oldest and wisest member of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Task Force in New Hampton, IA. When he first saw the Six Pillar signs going up in front of the school, he went right over, said thank you for putting them up and offered to help in any way that he could.

Paul has been participating in the Opportunity Village Benefit Walk since 1989. Since then he has raised more than $56,000 for Opportunity Village. Additionally, he has contributed time and resources to Pleasant Manorlow-rent housing, Feed the Children and the Rotarian’s shoe box project.

Many people in the New Hampton community have a deep respect for Paul. He is positive, goes out of his way to help someone and cares about the future of his community. He is known as the man that is accountable to himself and to others. He likes to know what is going on in his community and he always gives generously to projects that he believes will benefit others, particularly the youth and the disabled. There is hardly an improvement project in New Hampton that Paul hasn’t contributed to or sanctioned.

Ashlyn Kullen
Citizen of Character

Ashlyn is a sixth grader at Orange Elementary School in Waterloo, IA. She is a model of good character at home, at school and in her community. Ashlyn’s teachers note that she takes great pride in her work and tries to solve problems independently. She also is a great role model to other students in her school.

Ashlyn is very caring and compassionate and helps a variety of people in the Waterloo community. She cares for a woman who has been paralyzed by going to her home several times a week to babysit for the woman’s four year old son, prepare meals, cleans and does laundry. Ashlyn also volunteers in her church nursery, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and helps elderly with lawn care.

Christina Lambert
Educator of Character

Christina Lambert is the guidance counselor at Southeast Webster Grand Community School, and demonstrates good character through spearheading a variety of projects. In addition to serving as a school counselor, Chris has organized a variety of fundraisers, including a benefit for a co-worker with cancer. Chris is in charge of “Operation Angel Tree” which provides food and clothing to the needy. Additionally, she organized the schools “Pennies for Patients” program where students collect spare change to benefit The Leuekmia & Lymphoma Society.

In addition to making her school and community a better place by volunteering, Chris is passionate about spreading the Six Pillars of Character through her school. She provides CHARACTER COUNTS! to every classroom and differentiates her plans to meet the needs of each student.

In her nomination form, Bob Butrick & Becky Davis tell us, “Chris continues to instill the importance of the Six Pillars of Character within the school district and community. She has spent countless hours educating the students and staff about the philosophy and impact CHARACTER COUNTS! can make in the educational setting and everyday life. Chris has a deep passion for helping children and families in need. You can always count on her to go that extra mile for a child and their family.”

Marvin Pomerantz (video)
Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award

Marvin A. Pomerantz was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on August 6, 1930 and passed away August 14, 2008. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Commerce.

Marvin Pomerantz exemplified the Six Pillars of Character. He was aloving and caring husband and father, an astute and successful businessman who generously gave back to his community. He was a great friend to many of us. He believed and promoted the importance of education and was an early champion of CHARACTER COUNTS! in Iowa. He will truly be missed, but his legacy will live on.

Mr. Pomerantz founded Great Plains Bag Corporation in January 1961 and served as its President and General Manager for 14 1/2 years. In 1971 he was named Vice President of Continental Can Company, Inc. and in January of 1975 was named Vice President and General Manager of the Forest Products Brown Systems Operation. In August 1980 he was named President of the Diversified Group of International Harvester and from September 1981 until his resignation in July 1982 served that company as its Executive Vice President. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gaylord Container Corporation from October 1986 to April 2002. He served as Chairman and Chief
Executive Officer of The Mid-America Group in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Mr. Pomerantz was active in business, community and religious affairs. In 1981 he was the recipient of the Oscar C. Schmidt Iowa Business Leadership Award presented by The University of Iowa, College of Business Administration. He was awarded the National Governor’s Association Award for Distinguished Service as a private citizen in 1980 and in 1986 received the Alexis DeTocqueville Award from United Way of Central Iowa, and the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the National Society of Fund Raising Executives; the Distinguished Iowa Citizen Award from the Mid-Iowa Council Boy Scouts of America in 1990; and the People of Vision Award from the Iowa Society to Prevent Blindness in 1991. In 1995 he was inducted into the Iowa Business Hall of Fame. In 1998 he received the Hancher-Finkbine Alumni Medallion from the University of Iowa and received the Weizmann Institute of Science Tribute for the Rose Lee and Marvin Pomerantz Postdoctoral Scholarship. In 2000 he was inducted into The National Iowa Varsity Club as Honorary Letterwinner. In February 2001 he received the first Roosevelt High School Humanitarian Award and in April 2001 he received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in Washington D.C. In May 2002 he received the Young President’s Legacy Award.

 His wife, Rose Lee, resides in Des Moines and they have four daughters, Sandy, Marcie, Vickie and Lori, nine grandchildren, and one great grandchild.

Sam Sparland (video)
Citizen of Character

Sam is a ninth grade student at Johnston High School in Johnston. His teachers note that Sam “just wants to be a good person” and uses the Six Pillars of Character at home, school and in his community. Sam volunteers in his community by organizing a Walk for Life campaign, serves as a camp counselor and organized a food drive for the food pantry. He is an
example of mature decision maker who follows the model of identifying choices, considering the consequences and making the choice based on which outcome is desirable. He has never made a trip to the principal’s office for behavior, and he has earned the trust of his parents, teachers, and peers.

Michael Stevenson (video)
Citizen of Character

Michael is currently a freshman at Wartburg in Waverly, IA. He is an exceptional young man who has set goals for himself. His high school counselor believes that he has character that is above and beyond the typical high school or college student.

Michael is involved in several groups which focus on making his community better. Michael has volunteered at a community Thanksgiving dinner, cleaned a school, raked leaves for the elderly, and served food to marathon runners. He was also involved in the Howard County Tobacco Coalition which supports area businesses going tobacco free and assisting community members to quit smoking.


August 21, 2020
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August 18, 2020