Celebrity bell ringer challenges are one of the many community-centered ways that the Salvation Army raises funds and Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth and his team of bell ringing volunteers soundly defeated Ceres, Modesto and Riverbank in the third annual Salvation Army Mayors kettle Challenge.
The challenge was issued and the team came out on top raising $1,895 during the eight-hour event on Dec. 12 outside the Walmart Neighborhood Market on Geer Road in Turlock.
“I’m always up for a challenge that benefits such a worthy cause,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth. “I had a great team and I thank them for their time, dedication and efforts to raise funds.”
Rounding out the team with Soiseth were council members Steven Nascimento and Mathew Jacob, City Attorney Phaedra Norton, Turlock top personal trainers Deanne Culala and Shannon Tate-Mardakis and community members Pap Aghassi and Kristin Bettencourt.
“I want to especially thank Kristin Bettencourt for organizing the volunteers and promoting the challenge,” he said. “Kristin does so much for Turlock and her involvement was the reason Turlock brought home the trophy—she’s Turlock’s secret weapon.”
Ceres came in second, raising $1,120 with Modesto ($959) and Riverbank ($804) coming in third and fourth respectively.
“After all the friendly bantering between mayors, I’m grateful that the community rallied behind our Turlock team to beat the other cities,” said Soiseth.
Along with a year of bragging rights, Turlock will receive the traveling kettle trophy at next year’s Kettle Kickoff that raised over $55,000 this year alone in their “dash for cash.”
The funds raised for the Salvation Army help the less fortunate at Christmas time and throughout the year.
“Major Debi Shrum has dedicated her life to the Salvation Army and to the community of Turlock,” said Bettencourt. “She was the Turlock team’s inspiration and this challenge was a great way to increase Turlock’s awareness of all the great things that Salvation Army does.”
Salvation Army bell ringers and the signature red kettles will be in front of Turlock businesses through Christmas Eve.