Congratulations to the 2014 Southern Prairie Heroes of the Heartland Honorees


(Ottumwa, IA)Tuesday, March 25, 2014-The Southern Prairie Chapter of the American Red Cross is thrilled to announce the 2014 Heroes of the Heartland. These seven individuals are ordinary people who do truly extraordinary things. They help their communities when the need is most critical.

The 2014 Heroes of the Heartland are:

Jim and Darla Jackson – Since their retirement from the Ottumwa community schools, Jim and Darla Jackson have dedicated themselves to the dogs and cats in their community. Jim and Darla are enthusiastic supporters of Heartland Humane Society. They are active volunteers and served as board members for many years. There are very few days when you will not find them at Heartland Humane Society feeding, cleaning and caring for the animals. They both serve as spokespersons for Heartland Humane Society, and often spend time raising money for the facility. At their church, Trinity Episcopal, Jim and Darla have served in almost every capacity. From managing the kitchen and cooking meals, to sitting on the vestry board, to singing in the choir, Jim and Darla have done it all. Additionally, they worked in the church outreach ministry at the Men’s Homeless shelter and prepared meals for Hospice House. As dedicated as Jim and Darla were to their 34+ year teaching careers and serving their community at Heartland, Trinity Episcopal, Men’s Shelter and Hospice they have been equally devoted to their children, grandchildren and extended family.

Josh Chance – Ottumwa firefighter, Josh Chance, started a program called “Sparky Claus.”  His goal was to collect toys, bicycles and other holiday gifts for children in need in the community. Josh’s efforts have made the Christmas season a little happier for many children in Wapello County. After visiting a local elementary school a year ago, Josh expanded the outreach of the program. He observed a number of children who did not have adequate winter clothing. He also saw a need for boots, coats, mittens and hats. Josh now has school administrators contacting him when there is a need. His program in the community has been so successful that now he is helping to start similar programs in outlying communities through their local fire departments.

Jim and Karen Dellinger – Jim and Karen Dellinger haven turned a passion for running into service. While training for and running and biking in events like the Boston Marathon and RAGBRAI, Jim is active on the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure committee, including being race director and achieving certification for the race course.  Jim has also been Chairman of the Board of John Deere Credit Union, Chairman of the Board Hospice Wapello and Davis County, served as a committee member for the Charles Fahrney Education Foundation Scholarship Committee and serves Hospice as the “on call” maintenance provider. Jim has been honored as Hospice Iowa volunteer of the year. Karen is equally dedicated to the community. She taught preschool at Montessori Preschool for 25 years and ran the preschool at Wesley United Methodist for six years. She is active in Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and assisted the Ottumwa schools with scoring of the Writing Assessment. Additionally Karen worked with Festival of Trees for 15 years and volunteered with Hospice of Wapello and Davis County for many years. She cooks the noon meal once a week and does the weekly grocery shopping for Hospice. Karen has also been recognized as Hospice Volunteer of the Year. Karen has been active in Kings Daughters and the Ottumwa Women’s Club for many years. Together, Jim and Karen have volunteered in the Ottumwa Public Schools listening to children read at Douma and James Elementary.

Ashley Hale-Smith – In July 2014, Ashley Hale-Smith was driving home from work when she saw a truck crash and burst into flames in front of her. Ashley ran to the truck where the driver handed her the fire extinguisher. She put out the fire and then helped the driver and his injured wife until the ambulance arrived. Later, Mandy LaShay Edwards wrote the following, “My name is Mandy Edwards. My husband is Scott Edwards. We were involved in a rollover accident in Batavia Iowa. We would like to thank those people who assisted. One lady named Ashley stayed with me the whole time and stabilized my neck. Thanks to her I am not paralyzed because my neck was broken.”
Jeff Hendred – Jeff Hendred created a children’s bus ministry that reaches 50-75 underprivileged kids each week. His ministry teaches skills for better life choices. Jeff grew up in Ottumwa and became a successful teacher and administrator in the Ottumwa Community Schools. His friends, family and coworkers say his biggest attribute is that he truly cares about people, and especially children. Jeff worked as principal at elementary schools in Ottumwa and is currently principal at Horace Mann Elementary. Every day, Jeff works with young people teaching, mentoring and leading by example. Jeff also serves on several different boards in the community, including the Legacy Foundation.

The American Red Cross is honored to recognize Iowans who perform heroic acts. Heroes of the Heartland not only celebrates those individuals, but also raises money to help ensure the Red Cross will be prepared and best equipped to help people with food, shelter and comfort before, during and after emergencies.

The 2014 honorees will be celebrated at Heroes of the Heartland, Friday, April 4, 2014, at 7:00 a.m. at the Bridge View Center. Anybody interested in attending the event should R.S.V.P. to Josh Nuss at [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]>.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.