BROOKLYN, Iowa – Iowans are remembering Mollie Tibbetts by giving back to her community on what would have been the young woman's 21st birthday.
Tibbetts was murdered after disappearing while on a run in Brooklyn in July of 2018. Cristhian Rivera is charged with first-degree murder in her death.
The group Mollie’s Movement is collecting donations to help restore the Brooklyn Opera House.
The group brings awareness to missing person cases across the country.
Founder of Mollie’s Movement Joy Vanlandschoot said Tibbetts loved the theatre and arts growing up. Many of her family members volunteered their time at the opera house before it closed.
“We wanted to do something special to honor her and her family...people can donate $21 to the opera house which will help restore a building in need of it,” Vanlandschoot said.
Mollie’s Movement is partnering with the nonprofit Brooklyn Community Development to help restore the building.
People can donate $21 online or at the A Birthday Wish for Mollie Tibbetts event on Wednesday.
Brooklyn Community Development member Laura Manatt said the building closed in 1998 due to a caved floor and termites.
“Mollie’s dad has been really instrumental in terms of the design and the artwork and wants to portray her showing her personality and her love of life. I think one word he described as he wanted it to be was silly. Because she’s a silly girl. He wanted it to reflect her fun and charismatic attitude,” Manatt said.
Vanlandschoot said people can also donate to the Children’s Hospital at the University of Iowa Hospital on Wednesday when they eat at some restaurants in Iowa City. The restaurants will give 10 percent of the proceeds to the hospital.
Vanlandschoot said Mollie’s birthday is sparking joy and kindness not only in Iowa but around the country.
“For instance around her birthday you will see a lot of acts of kindness happening around the nation. We received a grant to give out 30 thousand kindness cards across the nation. There is also free downloads online. That spreads Mollie’s kindness and our own kindness,” Vanlandschoot said.
People are encouraged to do 21 acts of kindness in honor of Tibbetts' birthday.
“Her mom likes to tell the story about how there was a homeless woman that one of them came across and gave a kindness card to and she said she knew Mollie. Mollie would stop and talk to her. It shows us that this is something Mollie would have done,” Vanlandschoot said.
There will be an unveiling of artwork at the event in Tibbetts' honor. The art will hang in the restored opera house.
Mollie Tibbetts would have turned 21 on Wednesday, May 8th.