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Ceres 2nd in bell ringing contest
Vierra rings
Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra led a team of bell-ringers who collected money for Salvation Army on Dec. 12. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

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 Turlock 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 Turlock Mayor Gary Soiseth. "I had a great team and I thank them for their time, dedication and efforts to raise funds."

Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra and his team came in second place, raising $1,120 in front of Walmart. The amount Vierra and crew raised this holiday season far surpassed the $613.48 that was raised in 2014.

"He outstaged us and he solicited some ringers and got some people in there," said Vierra of Soiseth.

"People really gave," said Mayor Vierra. "It was double what we did (in 2014). The ones who look like they have the least donate the most. They know it's for a good cause. In our situation, the person from Walmart who was checking the receipts was telling all the people who we were and what we were doing so that helped out a little bit."
Several friends like Dave Yonan and Shane Parson came along and dropped off checks, said Vierra.

Councilman Ken Lane had the 10 a.m. to 12 noon shift and collected over $500. Councilman Bret Durossette also participated from 12 to 2. Vierra worked 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Councilmember Linda Ryno from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The Modesto mayor and team raised $959 to take third place while the Riverbank team came in fourth place with $804.

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."

Vierra said he engaged with trash talking with Soiseth in jest, telling the Turlock mayor "he better bring you're a game because the citizens of Ceres are two-time champs and they can donate like no other. So he kind of upped his game to both me and (Modesto Mayor Garrad) Marsh. It was so a good cause. I would have liked to have won but it probably looks better this way that we didn't win three in a row."

The funds raised for the Salvation Army help the less fortunate at Christmas time and throughout the year.

Salvation Army bell ringers and the signature red kettles were in front of businesses through Christmas Eve.