Inspired by her fifth grade friends who raise funds yearly for the local animal rescue program, Maddie Kloehn wondered what she could do.
She gave it a lot of thought. She wanted her project to help locally; as she learned that there are many needs right in her own community.
While watching television in early November, Kloehn saw that someone was donating bulletproof plates to their local police department. A thought popped into her head. She could do something for the New London Police Department.
She talked it over with her parents, Travis and Heather Kloehn. They supported her 100 percent.
“My grandpa Norm was a policeman,” said Maddie, “so I thought the idea was pretty cool, because it would help policemen just like he was.”
“When Maddie talked to Travis and me about her idea, I was immediately thankful that she wanted to do something to help out our community,” Heather said. “It was an easy effort once we committed to fundraising for the police department.”
Maddie said that she talked to someone at the New London Police Department to see what it needed. Accompanied by her mom, Maddie found out that with a little money, additional protective facemasks would help police officers to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. This life-saving procedure consists of mouth-to-mouth respiration and chest compression.
“The facemasks don’t spread germs and sometimes I guess a person might get sick and this way the police officer doesn’t get exposed to that,” Maddie said.
She discovered that a single defibrillator cost is around $1,000. The small suitcase-sized units administer an electric jolt to heart attack victims, with the attempt to jump-start a heart. Defibrillators are installed in many public buildings throughout the city, and each police officer is to carry one in their patrol car.
Once the daughter and mother team returned from the police department, a brainstorming session began. They needed a product to sell. They decided to sell dry recipe ingredients in a decorative jar.
Heather created a brochure for the project. An itemized list of recipes that included dry soup, brownie, and cookie mixes, packaged inside a Mason jar. Designed by Maddie, the front cover of the brochure says “Mixin’ It Up with Maddie.”
“She came up with that name on her own,” Heather said. “Also, Travis and I started her out with the supplies need to make the jars, but once her project really took off we needed additional help in purchasing supplies. So we applied for a Thrivent Action team and we were approved. We received $250 of seed money to help Maddie’s project go to another level.
“She’s done an amazing job of working on the entire project. I am her sole employee. She allows me to fill jars with her and I am her delivery driver.”
Asking Maddie how an order is filled for a cookie mix, she explained the ingredient measurements, the type of vessel it went in, and the finishing touches that make their effort so special.
She explained, “We pour the ingredients in slow, to make pretty lines in the jar. Like brown sugar and flour on top of it.”
Chocolate chips or M&Ms get used too.
“I like the jar and mug decorating the best,” Maddie said.
She pointed to the cloth pieces on top of a jar and demonstrated how they screw the cap on to secure the fabric. A ribbon and a bow wrap around the cap and a recipe card attaches to the container, with instructions to add an egg, milk, or vegetable oil.
“We use pretty scrapbook paper for the recipes,” Maddie said.
The timing was right for this project, as November was nearing an end, and serious gift shopping was upon them.
“We finished the orders from Thanksgiving this week,” Heather said. “Our extended family supports us. Many of them spread the word and plenty of orders came in.”
“We have met our first goal of $250,” Maddie said.
“After this week, $700 will have been collected,” her mother added. “Maddie is really working to reach her highest goal and raise enough money to be able to purchase a defibrillator for the department.”
“I think we’ll get to the goal of $1,000 for a defibrillator. If we get a little more money, we’ll use that for those masks,” Maddie said.
“It’s good to see young ones wanting to do something for someone else,” said Maddie’s grandmother, Mary Nelson. “I am proud of her, that she thought to do it for the police department and honor my husband.”
With more than 25 years on the New London Police Department, Norm Nelson retired a lieutenant. He passed away much too soon.
Mary Nelson said her husband always made their seven grandchildren a priority.
“He was always thinking up ways to surprise them or doing something extra for them. He really loved them all,” Mary said.
“I knew Grandpa Norm a long time,” Maddie said. “Grandpa used to pick us up from school. He always had ice cream and cookies or something for us.”
News of Maddie’s effort has spread through the ranks of the police department.
“With all the negative news reports about police officers coming in from all over the country, it is great to hear positive news, that an effort like Maddie Kloehn’s will help to support the work we do,” said New London Police Chief Jeff Schlueter.
He added that he is looking forward to meeting Maddie when she comes in.
“It will be a special day for all of us,” Schlueter added. “We’ll figure out some way to thank her, too.”