Mayor David Cook was worried about the new guy in the Salvation Army’s Mayoral Challenge, especially when he heard that Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams had received a $10,000 donation.
Cook, who had won the five of past six competitions to raise funds for the Red Kettle Campaign, got serious.
“We knew we had to kick it into high gear,” he said.
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Cook and his Red Kettle army of bell ringers raised $41,791.72, more than all of the mayors combined in any previous year. Williams rounded up $17,555.67, besting Arlington’s best previous year of 2011 (the only year that city beat Mansfield) by more than $4,000, said Capt. Patrick Jones of the Salvation Army. Pantego Mayor Melody Paradise also set a record, collecting $4,780.06, more than $1,700 more than her previous high total. Altogether, the Mayoral Challenge raised $64,127.45, and combined with all the other Red Kettles in the area, set a one-day record of $80,208.23.
“We were a little behind on our Red Kettle goal,” Jones said. “We’re caught up to last year and on our way to meeting our goal.”
Jones, who was still out of breath from carrying almost $65,000 in change and small bills, said his goal for the Mayoral Challenge was $35,000, but “David did that all by himself! Our goal for the Red Kettle Campaign is $350,000 and take took care of 12 percent of that.”
Cook couldn’t hide his excitement either.
“I certainly didn’t do it alone,” he said. “There were a lot of Mansfield people that helped. There were a lot of people coming together and getting organized.
“The great news is we did it, but what are we going to do next year?” he wondered.
Williams, who was competing in his first Mayoral Challenge after being elected as Arlington mayor earlier this year, is already making plans.
“Jeff said ‘I’ve learned a lot and I’ve got an idea of what I can do next year,’” Jones said.
All of the funds go to the Salvation Army to provide for the family homeless shelter, after-school programs, Angel Tree and summer day care.
“Hundreds and hundreds of people will be helped,” Jones said. “It’s hard to put a number on it. I’m delighted.”
So is Cook, who likes that the funds will stay in the Arlington/Mansfield community, and that the Mayoral Challenge trophy will stay at Mansfield’s City Hall.
“I give it to them, they fix the tag and give it back,” he said. “(The trophy) likes residing in Mansfield. If we win nine out of 10, it should just stay here.”