Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Mayors, coaches, captains face off in bell competition

The game is on this Friday with a fierce battle between West Orange-Stark and Little Cypress-Mauriceville. But the competition isn't on the field. It's at the doors to the West Orange Wal-Mart.

Football coaches Hiawatha Hickman from WO-S and Eric Peevey from LC-M will be vying to see who can raise the most money for the Orange County Salvation Army's Red Kettles as they ring the traditional bells to get donations.

They won't be the only players. Orange Mayor Larry Spears is going against West Orange Mayor Randy Branch, who will be assisted by Robert Currie of Innovative Air. Also, Salvation Army Captains Frankie and Jan Zuniga, a husband-wife team will be competing against each other. Last time the Zunigas had a bell-ringing kettle contest, Jan won the honor of hitting Frankie in the face with a whip cream pie. She wants to do it again.

The Friday lineup has the Zunigas ringing bells at opposite doors from 2 to 3 p.m. The mayors will take over the kettles from 3 to 4 p.m, and then the coaches will man the doors from 4 to 5 p.m. Captain Jan Zuniga said industries will compete after that.

The friendly local contest is part of a challenge from the U.S. Salvation Army national commander, who is challenging all branches to see who can raise the most money for their kettles during a four hour period on Friday.

If someone wants to support a favorite captain, coach, or mayor, they may give their donations to the person before Friday and the money will be counted toward the individual ringer's intake.

Captain Jan Zuniga said all the money raised in Orange County stays here to help local people. This year, the local army has helped more than 5,000 people with food and utility bills. "Especially this year with the economy, we need your help," she said to the community.

Local food requests have almost doubled the past few months compared to the same months last year. And as the requests have increased, the donations have gone down. Last month, the local army's pantry was down so low they didn't have canned green beans or canned fruit left. Those items are usually included in every sack of groceries handed out.

One older man who went to ask for groceries, shed tears when he was given a half-gallon of milk. Thanks to individual, business, and foundation donations, the Orange Salvation Army has refrigerators to store cold foods like milk, eggs, and meat to give for people who need food. The cash donations through the year help supply those perishable foods.

The local army is still looking for volunteers to ring the bells for the Red Kettles set outside of select stores. Volunteers can be church groups, civic clubs, school groups, families, or individuals. People may register online for a time and place to ring bells through http://www.RegisterToRing.com.

The Salvation Army earlier put out Angel Tree requests from children asking for gifts like toys, clothes, and bedding. International Paper in Orange once again is providing about 170 of the Angel Tree requests.

The Granger Chevrolet-KOGT.com annual food drive last week raised hundreds of pounds of non-perishable foods that have been divided between the Salvation Army and Orange Christian Services. The food helps the army keep the pantry stocked until the spring. However, with inflation making food prices difficult for some families and individuals, the pantry may run low before usual.

The Service League of Orange's annual Toy Coffee last week brought in toy and bedding donations to help meet the wishes of children at Christmas.

The Salvation Army works with other charitable groups in the county like Orange Christian Services, the Bridge City-Orangefield Ministerial Alliance, and Vidor United Christian Care to help assure children and families have a happy holiday with gifts and meals.

Cash and toy donations may be dropped off at the Salvation Army offices, 1950 Martin Luther King Drive, in Orange Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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