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Flathead towns compete for Salvation Army

Published On: Dec 19 2013 08:48:35 PM MST   Updated On: Dec 19 2013 09:07:24 PM MST

Six Flathead Valley communities are squaring off to see who can raise the most money for the Salvation Army.

The Kalispell Salvation Army held its first annual bell ringing competition in the Flathead Thursday, where the towns of Kalispell, Evergreen, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Bigfork and Lakeside faced off against each other, hoping to beat their competitors and raise the most amount of money.

Salvation Army Director of Development Bob Blake heard about the idea from the Spokane office, and decided to try out a competition in the Flathead.

"I started to contact the mayors of the organizations and, of course, the chamber presidents, and I have to be honest with you, I was shocked, pleasantly shocked, at the response I got," said Blake.

We headed down to a few collection sites to see for ourselves just how competitive and excited the towns were to be competing against each other, and it was easy to tell how badly each community wanted to win.

"Quite frankly, Evergreen is going to win, hands down, this little competition. All the rest of them, they can fight it out for second place," said Evergreen Chamber of Commerce President BJ Lupton.

"A community like Bigfork that thrives on volunteerism, this is the place, the community that is going to win this contest," said Bigfork Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bruce Solberg.

Blake said while the competition between the communities is exciting to watch, what's most important is the funds raised that will help those in need during the holiday season.

"Every donation that is collected at the kettles is reinvested right here back into the Flathead Valley," Blake said.