Dedicated to Volunteering: Jim’s Story

“I’ve probably helped hundreds of people. It’s a good feeling.”
-Jim Maloney

Jim Maloney started volunteering for the American Red Cross in October 2012. Nearly a decade later, his enthusiasm for volunteering shines brightly, through his tireless efforts as a duty officer in the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois chapter of the Illinois region.

Jim came to the Red Cross after serving as a crisis line advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. He started out answering phones at the local office, then learned about the disaster services duty officer position. For Jim, it seemed like a great fit.

“I’ve always wanted a chance to help people who have been in disasters or emergencies. I like dealing with things that need to be done right now. People reach out to you in their most desperate times of need and we are like a lifeline for them,” he said.

One night, Jim checked the disaster services agenda and it showed a significant need for duty officers. He took a 12-hour shift and was on his way, from there. Soon, it became every other Saturday, then every week. Jim’s passion for helping people was a perfect fit for his role as a duty officer.

“We serve dozens of counties and I like the fact we serve all of those areas. I like to do something where you can serve a whole bunch of people,” he said.

As a duty officer, Jim has received numerous calls for assistance after home fires – the leading cause of disaster in the U.S. Some of the calls that come in involve other emergencies – for example, individuals who are have their utilities turned off. Jim does not hesitate to go out of his way to find avenues of assistance for the people he speaks with, regardless of the time it takes to do so.

“I try to go the extra mile. If you take the time to help somebody during their time of need, they remember that. It just gives me a good sense of accomplishment and a good feeling to know that I am here to help others.”
-Jim Maloney

Jim describes the role of duty officer as rewarding, yet challenging. “It’s not a piece of cake,” he said. But, on the more difficult days, he said he remembers the people he has helped, and the team of volunteers and staff members around him. Jim also enjoys the freedom he has with scheduling. “As a duty officer, I can decide when I am able to be on-call and when I can’t do it. I like the flexibility.”

The need for volunteers is ongoing. Jim has some words of encouragement for people looking to volunteer and get involved.

He says, “Especially if you’re going to get into social work and are looking for experience, this is a great role. Red Cross is the place to do that. If you find being a duty officer isn’t for you, maybe you can try casework or disaster response, logistics or other roles. If you want to learn any type of skill, you can do that with the Red Cross.”

Trish Burnett is the executive director for the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois chapter. She is thankful for Jim and his service to the organization and the local community.

“Jim is a true humanitarian,” she said. “We are so glad to have him on the disaster team in our area, and our community is a better place for his efforts. Jim’s devotion to helping people and making a difference is contagious, and it is a privilege having him as a loyal volunteer.”

Thank you, Jim, for being a dedicated Red Crosser! Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Red Cross.

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen

Mississippi Mud: A flavor that unites a community during disaster

When a catastrophe hit the Mississippi River in 1933, the Quad Cities suffered great loss to their community. With extensive damage to the area, the community came together to help those in need during this tragic event. 


Whitey’s Ice Cream shop has been a part of the Quad Cities community since 1933. With locations in Moline, Rock Island, and Davenport, people from all around come to eat the delicious flavors it has to offer. Becoming a true fan favorite in the community, Whitey’s strives to create and sustain an endless bond by caring for the needs of the Quad City area.           

Whitey’s decided to take action during The Great Flood of 1933 to help ease the burden of damages that were created by making a new ice cream flavor and donating the proceeds to the Red Cross.

Aptly named, the “Mississippi Mud” ice cream flavor was born: a coffee flavored ice cream base swirled with Oreo cookies and a fudge rumble. Even in the midst of disaster, people came together for something good that ultimately benefitted those affected by a disaster.

Decades later in 2019, when the Mississippi River flooded the Quad Cities area again, the Mississippi Mud ice cream fundraiser was back in full force. With endless damages to the city of Davenport, Whitey’s and the Red Cross were able to support those in need.

“Being able to have something that everyone can get behind while enjoying a dip of ice cream is a good thing,” Annika Tunberg, vice president of Whitey’s Ice Cream said. “It’s just a way that people can do something or feel connected to the situation and give back even in the slightest way.”

The Red Cross is grateful to Whitey’s for uniting the community and contributing to disaster relief. When disasters hit the area, it is so powerful to see the help that comes and the impactful way people want to help. And Whitey’s provides another opportunity to help in times of need.

“Being a part of this fundraiser has been so special, it has given both of us the opportunity to help the community in a creative way,” said Trish Burnett, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Serving the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois.

This fundraiser raised awareness and money for the American Red Cross while allowing the public to get behind something greater. 

“Over a few weeks’ time we were able to donate all profits from the sale of the flavor to the Red Cross,” Tunberg said, “We were able to raise $45,000.”

As the amazing relationship between The Red Cross and Whitey’s Ice Cream continues, so will the Mississippi Mud flavor. This fundraiser has made such a positive impact on the Quad Cities community and will continue for disaster relief when needed. Though this is a fundraiser for disasters and those in need, it will continue to be a way for the community to come together as one. Read more about the flavor’s origins here.

Written by Communications Intern Julie Piz

Knit Together for a Cause

Winter hats and mittens. These are necessary items during the cold weather months and can be taken for granted, sometimes. However, a group of American Red Cross volunteers in the Quad Cities do not take these items for granted. They are dedicated to using their talents for the good of other people, and have spent countless hours knitting these items together for children and military families who need them.

The knitting group meets weekly in Moline and got its start in 2011. The group donates an average of 200 sets of handmade mittens every year and, in total, these ladies have made and donated more than 2,000 sets of knitted items since 2011. The mittens and hats are provided to military members and their families through Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces.

“Hats, gloves, and scarves are distributed at stand downs for homeless veterans, helping them to stay warm throughout the winter. These knitted items provide not only for the physical needs of our veterans, but the personal nature of these handcrafted items show them that someone cares,” said Crystal Smith, regional director of Red Cross Service to Armed Forces & International Services.

Carol Van De Walle has been there since the beginning. She helped form the group and is glad to see it has continued through the years, even during the pandemic when they have met virtually on Zoom meetings or outdoors. None of the people in the group knew each other before joining, but consider each other good friends, now.

“I think the camaraderie of the people is what I enjoy the most. Our group, we just enjoy each other a lot and we’re very supportive of each other. We have very talented people, and we have beginners. It’s a very accepting group. I really enjoy having that connection, it has been very rewarding,” she said.

Carol and her fellow group members have worked with the Rock Island Arsenal in recent years, sending their handmade items to be distributed to military families. Items ranging from lap blankets to dishcloths to pet accessories all have been lovingly donated, through the years.

“We feel like we’re helping our community and that’s important to all of us,” she said.

Carol has been a Red Cross volunteer for 20 years, formerly serving on our disaster team. She loves giving her time and is thankful to still have the opportunity to do so.

“This is something I can do to still contribute. What’s nice about the Red Cross is there’s something for everybody. When you’re young and strong you can do some of the things and when you’re not, there’s other things you can do and you can still be useful and helpful to your community and the Red Cross in general,” she said.

Trish Burnett, our executive director for the Quad Cities and West Central Illinois chapter, has worked with these dedicated volunteers for many years and appreciates the efforts they make on a regular basis.

“Carol and the group of volunteers who selflessly give their time to knit these items by hand show true kindness and generosity, again and again. They are dedicated to serving members of the military, the Red Cross and the community and we are very appreciative of their continued efforts.”
-Trish Burnett

This month, we celebrated the knitting group for their efforts during a reception in their honor. Please join us in thanking this team of dedicated volunteers for all they do!

Written by Illinois Region Communications Manager Brian Williamsen