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Healthy Families Drive raises record amount for Boys Town Iowa

Healthy family drive

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This article is written by Tim Johnson. It was posted on; May 5, 2018.

The third annual Healthy Families Drive set another record, yielding more than 9,000 pounds of household and hygiene products for Boys Town Iowa clients, officials announced Friday at the organization's Council Bluffs office.

That's a quantum leap from last year's total of 5,700 pounds.

There was an earth-shaking change in the battle between the Red Team, led by the Council Bluffs Fire Department; and the Blue Team, led by the Council Bluffs Police Department. For the first time in the drive's history, the Blue Team won decisively, gathering 5,100 pounds of products, compared to 3,900 pounds for the Red Team.

Boys Town Iowa kicked off the drive at the beginning of April at Roosevelt Elementary School and Wilson Middle School. Many other schools from both Council Bluffs and Lewis Central Community School Districts also participated in the drive, along with community partners Iowa Western Community College, CHI Health Mercy Hospital, Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and Google. Collection boxes were placed at local Hy-Vee Food Stores, Hy-Vee Drugstore, The Center, Council Bluffs Fire Department stations, the Council Bluffs Police Department and some local churches and schools.

Collaboration this year was "wonderful," said Debbie Orduna, executive director of Boys Town Iowa.

"Every weekend, we had people at Super Saver and Hy-Vee collecting things," she said. "It's just been another great year of the community coming together."

Last year, the Red Team collected 3,600 pounds of products to outpace the Blue Team, which gathered 2,100 pounds.

The drive makes a difference for many local families, Orduna said.

"Last year, we helped 600 children from over 300 families — just from this event," she said. "As a whole, Boys Town served 2,400 children in Iowa."

The agency also made a difference for Lynn Poe, a Council Bluffs woman who was in an abusive relationship and using meth, like her partner.

"A year ago when I got involved in the system, I was broken," she told staff members and volunteers gathered for the announcement. "Suicide was an everyday thought, and addiction was" a way of life. "It was a situation where, with the drugs and abuse, it seemed like there was n​​o way out."

Poe called Boys Town.

"I said, 'I don't want this life for my children, and I don't want this life for me,'" she recalled.

Boys Town referred Poe to Iowa Family Works, a rehab program operated by Heartland Family Service that offers residential treatment for women and space for their children. After 30 days required for addicts to detoxify, Poe's two daughters were able to move in with her there.

"For the first time in a long time, I had hope," she said. "I thought I owed it to my children to take a chance and try to make it work."

Poe took parenting classes from Boys Town and took advantage of its free closet.

"Boys Town has been not just life-changing in my life but lifesaving," she said. "If the drugs hadn't killed me, I would have killed myself."

After rehab, Poe and her daughters stayed at Catholic Charities Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault shelter.

Now, they have their own apartment, and Poe is volunteering at Sequels Thrift Store to establish a work history.

Boys Town began offering in-home services in Iowa in 1989 through an office in Glenwood. It opened a Council Bluffs office in 2006 and moved to 1851 Madison Avenue in 2007. The organization closed its office on Madison at the end of 2016 and opened at its current location.