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Mayors compete in Kettle Challenge
bell ringing pic
Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth and Kristin Bettencourt (pictured above at the Bar Bell event on Thanksgiving Eve) will revive their bell ringing partnership for the Mayors' Challenge from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday in front of the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Geer Road. - photo by Journal file photo

Sometimes a little competition can spur the giving spirit, at least when it comes to the Stanislaus County Mayors' Bell Ringing contest in support of The Salvation Army.

Mayors from cities across the county will ring bells outside local businesses on Saturday to raise money for The Salvation Army in this third annual event.

Patterson rang in the most money last year, but Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth is determined to come up with the most funds this time around. Soiseth and his Turlock partners will occupy the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Geer Road from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, encouraging shoppers to give generously.

"I look forward to bell ringing for the Salvation Army every year, but this friendly competition among the Stanislaus County mayors has brought out my competitive side,” he said. “While I hope every city is able to raise a significant amount on Saturday, I know that Turlock's residents will show up in force to donate their spare change to such a great organization like the Salvation Army."

 Councilman Steven Nascimento and City Attorney Phaedra Norton will be ringing from 10 a.m. to noon. Turlock’s top fitness trainers Deanne Culala and Shannon Tate-Mardakis will be ringing from noon to 2 p.m. Councilman Matthew Jacob and Pap Aghassi, owner of Jura's Pizza, will be ringing from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Last, but not least, Mayor Soiseth and Kristin Bettencourt will be stationed from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ringing the bell at the Walmart Neighborhood Market.

Major Debi Shrum said she is thankful for this fun competition that helps raise money for the Salvation Army to do their good work throughout the county.

“I just think it's fun,” she said. “Anytime you can have fun with a fundraiser you’re doing it right,”

Bettencourt, a Salvation Army Board member, said she is always pleased with the support from the community and that this crew will do whatever it takes to win.

“I truly love our community so much,” she said. “People are always digging deep and donating to all sorts of causes. It’s heartwarming and overwhelming and we are so appreciative of the Salvation Army.”

"With Kristin Bettencourt as a bell ringing partner, you never know what embarrassing thing she might make you do to help fill up the kettle,” said Soiseth. “We will have to wait and see."