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Service project to benefit housing program for autistic adults


Typically, Iowans spend the winter months bundled up in coats or staying inside to keep warm. Some people, however, are taking a plunge in sub-freezing temperatures for a good cause.

Drake University Students in Free Enterprise is teaming up with the Des Moines winter games to host the first-ever Drake SIFE Polar Plunge.

On Friday evening, over 100 community members and Drake students will each pay $5 to jump into Sleepy Hollow Lake while wearing costumes in order to raise money for The Homestead.

The Homestead is a campus that houses 24 autistic adults who would otherwise not be able to work or live alone. These adults are able to work on the campus apple orchard and farm, but the funds earned are not enough to sustain all of their lives.

Eric Armbrecht, director of The Homestead, said that this event can help The Homestead raise money for a pelletizer, a machine that creates fuel in the form of pellets. He would specifically like to use it for heat.

“Our greenhouse could be heated to provide a warmer environment for our winter lettuce crop, a warmer environment for our red worms to produce castings faster and a warmer work environment for adults with autism during the winter,” Armbrecht said.

This, in turn, would help The Homestead gain more profits in the winter months when business is slow.

However, the cost of buying and implementing the pelletizer will be nearly $9,500.

Senior London James, the project leader with Drake SIFE, said that she would love to help The Homestead purchase the pelletizer through her group’s efforts.

“Our group specifically aims to create financial sustainability for The Homestead, whether that is through creating new ideas and product markets or making old methods more efficient,” James said.

James and her group have been planning this event since the beginning of the summer. She is eager to see what kind of turnout there will be at the event to help a business in much need.

If you would like to jump in for the polar plunge and make an impact on a non-profit business, visit the Drake SIFE Polar Plunge page on Facebook. There, you can access the link to register to jump and learn more about The Homestead.

Warming tents will be available for jumpers as well as prizes for the best costumes. Live entertainment will be provided all evening, along with raffles, ice sculpting and many other activities.

James said that she can’t wait for Friday to arrive.

“It costs only $5 to jump, and with a live band, costume contest and all the other winter games competitions going on at the same time, it’s going to be a really fun night,” James said. “Most importantly, all proceeds will be going to a great cause.”

Des Moines Winter Games

The Polar Plunge is part of the Des Moines Winter Games which will take place Feb. 3 – 5.  The DSM Winter Games include several activities other than the Polar Plunge.

  • Adult Broomball tournament — Fri. and Sat. @ 9:15 p.m., Brenton Skating Plaza
  • Ice Fishing Derby — Sun. @ 8 a.m., Easter Lake
  • Sleepy Hollow Sports Park activities: cardboard sled race, downhill kayaking, downhill ski bike race, and many more.  All day Fri. and Sat.
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