Have you “herd" about the holiday display that brought joy while helping a local nonprofit? An Associated Bank colleague and her family has been getting attention with an inflatable display of holiday cows that has helped to get fundraising “moo-ving" for the Boys & Girls Club of Portage County.
Melanie Kuolt, customer care interaction & service delivery manager, based in Stevens Point, Wis., has seen the toll the past few years have taken on customers, colleagues and families in the community.
“After a long day at work, I went to the store and saw one inflatable cow on the shelf. I felt an impulse to seek out a herd for our front yard," said Kuolt. “After a quick text exchange with two other Associated Bank colleagues, we decided that a whole herd of inflatable cows was just what this community needed to lighten our spirits."
Kuolt searched a 150-mile radius to build her herd, which grew to 15 cows with the help of anonymous gifts. This year, they added an inflatable tractor with farmer Santa at the helm and a few bales of hay. To add to the fun, passing traffic on Country Club Drive would sometimes see the couple dressed in inflatable cow costumes waving from their front yard.
It quickly gained attention on social media and regional news, which they decided to use as an opportunity to call the community to action. From a newly created “Country Club Cows of Stevens Point" Facebook page, Kuolt and her wife began encouraging donations to the Boys & Girls Club, a nonprofit making great impact in their community.
“It was important to us that we choose a fully inclusive community organization that welcomed and celebrated youth of all backgrounds, including those of every race, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, socio-economic status and religion," said Kuolt. “They also fill a huge community need for parents and help local college students learn skills needed to work with youth. Because of their support of the community, we wanted to help them beef up their fundraising efforts."
The herd has retired to the barn for this season but plans to be back next year.
“We all have a lot of stress these days, and we have to remember that there's a spark of fun and youth in all of us," she said. “These cows have certainly brought out the kid in me, and I see how joyful it makes people of all ages as they drive by a human-sized inflatable dancing cow! Beyond helping the Boys & Girls Club, the joy we've sparked in the community makes it all worth it."