Mansfield Mayor David Cook has won six of the seven Salvation Army Mayoral Bell Ringing Challenges. And he’s ready to add one more.
“The good news is we raised almost $43,000 last year,” Cook said. “The bad news is we raised almost $43,000 last year. The pressure is on.”
To be exact, Cook raised $43,321.17, the majority of the $65,666.35 raised when the mayors of Arlington, Pantego and Mansfield squared off to see who could raise the most money for the Salvation Army, said Lt. Timothy Israel of the Arlington/Mansfield Salvation Army post.
But the competition is stiffer this year, Israel said. Last year was Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams’ first year to compete, raising $17,565.23, and Williams has got big plans for this year, Cook said. Pantego Mayor Melody Paradise, who rounded up $4,780.06 last year, has raised the most per capita for the past two years.
This year, Kennedale Mayor Brian Johnson and Dalworthington Gardens Mayor Kimberly Fitzpatrick have joined the fight. The one who raises the most money Dec. 17 takes home the trophy, which has been at home in Mansfield for most of its existence. Cook has a goal of raising $50,000 this year, and he’s rounded up a lot of people to help him ring bells.
“We are engaging our students,” he said. “I’ve been in conversation with local school personnel. Our police and fire departments will be actively involved.
“We need the Mansfield community to come out and support us,” Cook said. “The odds are in my favor, when you win six of seven.”
The only year Mansfield has not taken the prize was in 2011.
“That’s the year they had the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,” Cook said. “We’ve got the Pickle Queens, so it evens out.”
Cook will have buckets and bell ringers stationed in front of Walmart, 930 N. Walnut Creek Drive, Sam’s Club, 1740 FM 157, and both Mansfield Chick Fil A locations, 800 N. Walnut Creek Drive and 3200 E. Broad St., from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 17.
The competition between the mayors is fierce, but goodnatured, Israel said.
“This is my first time doing this,” Israel said. “In the Salvation Army, this event has garnered some notoriety. It’s very unique any time you can get a single mayor, but getting multiple mayors is really unique.
“I think (the competition) is one of the reasons the mayoral challenge has been successful,” he said. “It’s all done in fun, but we want to help the city we identify with at the end of the day. Even if you’re not the winner, your community has won because of the services to be provided.”
The Arlington/Mansfield Salvation Army post needs to raised $350,000 this holiday season to provide Christmas for 1,100 families and services for its family shelter and education programs year-round, Israel said.
“I’m grateful to all of the mayors for getting involved,” Israel said. “They don’t just put their names behind it, they put work forces behind it.”
If Cook hits his $50,000 goal, he could be keeping the trophy in Mansfield for another year.
“The trophy has gotten used to sitting in the trophy case in Mansfield,” Cook said. “Just as well call it the Mansfield Cup.”
Israel isn’t quite ready to change the trophy’s name.
“We definitely need to find some way to recognize Mansfield,” he said. “Mansfield has definitely rallied around its mayor and the Salvation Army. I don’t know if we can name the whole challenge after them. But it’s catchy.”
Cook, who is chairman of the Arlington/Mansfield Salvation Army’s advisory council, wants to win, but he really wants to help the Salvation Army help those in need.
“It’s become part of our custom and culture as we celebrate the season,” he said. “We help people in need and there’s no better place to do it than the Salvation Army.”
Salvation Army Mayoral Bell Ringing Challenge
9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17
Walmart, 930 N. Walnut Creek Drive
Sam’s Club, 1740 FM 157
Chick Fil A, 800 N. Walnut Creek Drive
Chick Fil A, 3200 E. Broad St.