Restaurant pledges $5,000 to Salvation Army

ARLINGTON -- Olenjack's Grille in north Arlington has cooked up a plan to help the Salvation Army make up for donations lost this year when a red kettle site was moved away from the entrance to the Interlochen Christmas lights route.

The restaurant will contribute $5,000, executive chef Brian Olenjack said Wednesday.

He said he became concerned about the nonprofit's lagging collections after reading articles in the Star-Telegram.

"It is a goodwill gesture from us to them," he said.

Last year, Salvation Army volunteers collected $5,000 in six nights from a red kettle set up in a dental office parking lot right outside the entrance to the popular neighborhood Christmas lights tour, which draws about 40,000 visitors each season.

After complaints from Interlochen residents, the agency moved about six-tenths of a mile away from the entrance to the Army National Guard office at Randol Mill Road and Oakwood Lane. Only $387 was collected on the first three nights, Salvation Army Lt. Patrick Jones said. Traffic was so slow that the site was shut down Tuesday, Wednesday and tonight. It will reopen Friday and Saturday nights, Jones said.

"I felt bad for them," Olenjack said. "It's not a large amount of money, but there are families that will be affected by it."

The Arlington Salvation Army hoped to raise more than $400,000 through the Red Kettle Campaign to support its homeless shelter, soup kitchen and other community programs. Collections are $68,000 less this year than at the same period last year, Jones said. Olenjack said he would present the $5,000 donation shortly after Christmas.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock