Hula hoop tree in Ely raising money for fire department, city services

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 6:28 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Smaller towns can struggle to get funding, but a bar in Ely came up with a creative way to raise money for the city’s fire department and parks and recreational services.

Ely’s fire departments annual pancake breakfast normally brings in thousands of people. With them being a volunteer department, it’s hard for them to get those funds back.

Odie’s bar and grill decided to start raising money for the fire department. They’re selling hula hoops for their hula hoop tree.

Odie’s sold more than 100 hula hoops so far. They presented a $1,000 check to the fire chief.

The chief said money will go toward training and the purchase of equipment for the fire department.

He said that money will go a long way for a smaller volunteer department that doesn’t get a lot of funding.

“A lot of the departments in Iowa, we’re limited on the amount of funding we can receive in taxes,” said Fire Chief Aaron Cooper. “So we’re required to go out and try to raise money just to make ends meet. We have the same bills as anyone else has as far as utilities and having the building and structure, fuel for the trucks.”

Workers at Odie’s say during these tough times, it’s important to help out. This tree represents the community coming together.

“The hospitality is really good around here is great,” said Alexandrea Olah, with Odie’s. “When somebody’s in need, we feel the need to help them. We feel good helping one another around here.”

People that want to buy a hula hoop can stop by Odie’s. They cost $10. Odie’s will now shift their attention to sending sales from the hula hoop tree to the city’s Parks and Recreation department.

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