May 16, 2019

Sharing the Warmth

Kahley Kallberg’s criminal justice studies major inspired her to take action on behalf of community members in need

This past winter, the upper Midwest experienced one of the harshest winters in decades. Residents learned a new term – Polar Vortex – a phenomenon that triggered the coldest outbreak since the 1990s. People hauled out their very best winter gear to shield themselves from the bitter cold temperatures.

Kahley Kallberg ’19 remembers a particular day when the Vortex hovered over the Great Lakes, driving temperatures dangerously low.

“I was walking across the UWS campus and I had forgotten my hat at home,” she said. “I couldn’t believe how cold it was and I thought about what a big difference it would make if I only had a hat. Later that night, I couldn’t sleep. I just kept thinking of all the people who don’t have proper winter clothes or shelter and how cold they must be. I decided I had to do something about it.”

While sleep evaded her, Kahley searched online for coat drives and other charitable resources in the area, but couldn’t find exactly what she was looking for.

“Most clothing and coat drives take place in the fall, prior to the coldest months,” she said. “But, I knew there were still many people who didn’t have what they needed, and sometimes people don’t really think about donating until the weather gets really cold. That’s when I decided to start my own coat drive and to call it ’Share the Warmth.’”

After meeting with a few UW-Superior staff and faculty for advice, Kahley decided to contact the Ruth House, a faith-based, nondenominational safe house in Superior for the homeless, underprivileged and those coming out of addiction.

“I decided that would be the best place to take the donations,” she said. “They distribute things right away, even taking things to homeless people out on the streets, and they also share everything with the Esther House, another safe house in Superior.”

Gathering all the unused coats, hats, mittens, boots, and blankets she could find at her dad’s house, Kahley and her father made the first of many donations to “Share the Warmth.” Kahley then made flyers and put them up all over UWS and the Superior community. She knocked on the door of every office at UWS, put announcements on social media, church bulletins and campus communications, and eventually gathered 73 coats, sweaters and vests, 69 scarves and hats, 16 pairs of winter boots, 35 pairs of heavy socks, 17 blankets and 30 pairs of gloves.

“I’ll never forget one woman who picked a hat out of the bags of donations I brought and she started to cry,” said Kahley. “She was just so grateful to have it. It just made me feel really good to do something for people in need.”

Inspired by her education

Kahley said her experiences as a legal studies major with a concentration in criminal justice inspired her to take action. One educational experience in particular got her thinking about what she could do to help – the Certificate in Ethical Policing course she took through Continuing Education.  

“I’ve been fortunate to be part of the pilot program for the new Ethical Policing Certificate,” said Kahley. “Nick Alexander, the Superior Police Chief, teaches the class and brings in other professionals in the field to speak to us. It was one of the most valuable and unique parts of my education here at UWS. I think it really sets the criminal justice studies program here apart from the rest.”  

Kahley has earned three certificates through Continuing Education while earning her bachelor’s degree at UWS – mediation, criminal justice paralegal, and ethical policing. She says they are one of the most valuable and unique aspects of her educational experience at UWS.

Kahley crossed the commencement stage in May with suma cum laude honors and as the first in her family to earn a college degree. She plans to go into law enforcement and someday hopes to work for the FBI.

“I see the bad rap that police officers sometimes get and it just motivates me even more to go into the field and make a positive difference,” said Kahley. “I think there is a need for officers who have empathy, are ethical and who want to make a difference in the community. Something I heard Chief Alexander say during my ethical policing course has really stuck with me. He said, ’Every encounter is a chance for a positive interaction with a community member.’”

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The Center for Continuing Education offers courses for undergraduate and graduate academic credit for students enrolled at UW-Superior as well as for others who want to take courses for credit. Students may take individual courses as well as professional certificates that enhance current credentials and expand career options.

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