People in Portage County are getting ready for next weekend's last regular season Packers-Bears match-up, and one of the biggest games in the NFC North Division, in a way that also benefits others.
The Salvation Army is channeling people's competitive spirit into holiday cheer and donations with this year's fifth annual Bears-Packers Challenge Saturday.
Two sets of bell ringers were placed outside three locations in Portage County: Trigs, Copps, Wal-Mart. While all donations go to the Salvation Army, each team collected its own set of donations. That means, if you're a Bears fan, they're looking to have you donate in their Bears kettle. If you're a Packer fan, they're hoping for your Packers donations. The team with the most donations wins bragging rights and knowing they got a victory for their team, regardless of what happens on the field. Bear fans do get a little assistance, however.
"It's Central Wisconsin, so if the Bears fans collect 60 percent of what the Packers fans collect, we consider that a victory," said bell ringer Doug Schneider. "And it ought to be because the Packers fans should surely out-number Bears fans in this area."
The event started at a Salvation Army in Illinois, but Schneider introduced it here five years ago. He said these donations provide a lot of help to those in need.
"It (the donations) provides food for the hungry. It provides shelter. It provides a lot of things," said Schneider. "That's the most important factor in all that we're doing. We have a lot of fun with the competition and people really do. They come out, they get behind their team. They know it's going for a good cause, so they give a little extra and it really increases the giving during the hours that we're out here."
"We're having a rough season and we need all the help we can get this year," said Salvation Army Director of Operations, Bob Quam.
Quam said the Salvation Army loves to bring smiles to people's faces and this is one way they can do that.
"We really love to get the Bear fans in here, but there's something that's always bothered me is how much better looking, us Packer fans are," said Quam.
Even for a good cause, it's difficult to get Packers and Bears fans together without, at least, some light-hearted banter.
"Bob likes to say that the Packer fans are certainly better looking, well they got to dress up quite a bit for that I guess," Schneider responded.
If you missed a chance to participate in Saturday's Bears-Packers Challenge, you still can. You'll just need to place your donations in an envelope and mark it with your team preference. Tuesday at 4 p.m. will mark the end of the Red Kettle Drive this year. We'll bring you the winner of the challenge once the donations are counted after Christmas.
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