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Maureen McMullen, Published November 16 2013

Mascot Challenge raises $1,200 for Salvation Army

FARGO – The Scheels store here buzzed with holiday excitement Saturday as children visited Santa and his reindeer and gave money to the Salvation Army.

For the sixth annual Mascot Challenge, mascots from Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead and North Dakota State University manned the charitable organization’s famous red kettles.

Concordia’s Kernel Cobb, MSUM’s Scorch and NDSU’s Thundar competed Saturday to bring in the most donations.

To boost each team’s standing in the competition, shoppers could drop money into their favorite mascot’s bucket.

At 3 p.m., the mascot with the most donations was deemed the winner.

This year’s challenge raised more than $1,200, with Thundar declared the winner for bringing in $609.48. NDSU’s mascot also took the top honors at last year’s event, raising $997.

MSUM’s Scorch took second this year with $333, followed by the $264.96 collected by Concordia’s Kernel Cobb.

Maj. Byron Medlock, Core Officer at Fargo’s Salvation Army, estimated about half of the donations were dropped from children.

“That’s what it’s all about right there,” Maj. Medlock said as a little girl greeted Thundar with a hug. “The little kids get excited about doing it. I’ve had kids stop their mothers and pull them back to give money.”

Casi Nelson, a Concordia alumna, said her sons Halden, 3, and Henrick, 1, were thrilled to give donations.

“They’ve met Kernel before, so they always love to see him,” said Nelson. “Their dad is a Bison, so we kind of have to play favorites, but obviously we love the corn cob.”

Although most interactions between kids and the mascots involve hugs and high-fives, some aren’t so positive.

“Most people seem to enjoy them, but some of the kids are scared of them,” said Jill Fox, a freshman at MSUM.

Fox volunteered for the event to show her support for the community and MSUM.

Like Fox, student athletes from each school took up bell-ringing alongside their mascots.

“I love our mascot, Kernel Cobb, so why not raise some money for a great cause?” said Brittany Glatt, a Concordia sophomore.

Though the mascot challenge took a hit last year with a Bison game scheduled on the same day, Maj. Medlock was confident the students would meet the goal of matching the $1,200 that was raised at last year’s event.

“Cold does not affect them,” said Maj. Medlock. “They can motivate themselves and people around them. They get people enthused about giving.”

By collecting donations online and with the red kettles, the area Salvation Army hopes to raise $950,000 this holiday season.

The Salvation Army uses its funds to reach out to those in need, providing resources such as daily hot meals, Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets, as well as youth coaching.

“We’re hoping to provide a service to the community,” said Maj. Medlock.