Mayors in east Tarrant County cities are turning up the heat under a Dec. 21 red kettle challenge, determined to make up a shortfall in the Salvation Army’s annual bell-ringing campaign.
“I encourage people to come out because the Salvation Army needs our support more than ever,” said Mansfield Mayor David Cook.
Indeed, ice that covered streets for a full weekend probably cost the campaign about $184,000, said Salvation Army spokesman Pat Patey.
“Just to cover the two ice days, we need 184,000 people who would have put in $1 to put in $2,” Patey said.
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And the shortfall threatens operations during a time when more people than ever are seeking the Salvation Army’s help. That’s why the challenge that pits the mayors of Mansfield, Arlington, Kennedale, Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens against one another is so important. In 2012, the mayors earned a combined $25,137.72. Everything collected in kettle campaigns goes to help folks served by the local Salvation Army’s programs, Patey said.
Last year, Cook brought in $11,992.69, compared with Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck’s $10,070.25, said Salvation Army Lt. Patrick Jones.
As the winner in three out of four challenges, Cook said he has some surprises up his sleeve. After all, he has to overcome such tactics as Cluck calling in the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders to help him win in 2011.
Part of the plan is to set up kettles at the Walmart on Walnut Creek Drive and U.S. 287, as well as at the new Sam’s Club at U.S. 287 and Farm Road 157, Cook said.
“I don’t want to give all our secrets away,” Cook said. “But we’re going to create a fun atmosphere with clowns, music and cheerleaders from Mansfield High School and Worley Middle School.”
Cluck said he and his wife, Linda, will be at a Walmart across from Cowboys Stadium on Randol Mill Road. He said they’re working on a couple of ideas for attracting more people, but usually don’t have to do much more than ring bells and watch people drop money into the buckets.
“It takes my breath away to see how many people drop large bills into it,” Cluck said.
Pantego Mayor Melody Paradise raised $2,459.72 last year, and will be at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Pioneer Parkway this year.
Though Dalworthington Gardens Mayor Michael Tedder brought in $614.98 last year, his participation hadn’t been confirmed when this report was written.
Kennedale didn’t participate in 2012, but Mayor John Clark said he’s bringing help with him this year to the Walmart on Little Road at U.S. 287.
“I’m getting council members and the schools involved,” Clark said. “It’s hard to compete against the larger cities, but we’ll do the best we can.”