More than 800 people gathered Tuesday at the Assyrian American Civic Hall in Turlock for the Salvation Army Kettle Kick-Off Luncheon.
A total of $46,169 was raised in five short minutes during the frantic Kettle Klash, which pits local organizations against each other to see who can gather the most money from the people seated throughout the hall.
This year’s winner was the “Just Plain Nuts” team of Nick Hackler, Jack Wilkey, Dean Doerksen and Dexter Long, who raised $12,600. The runner up was “We Can Build It” with Jerry Powell and Clark Hulbert.
Powell also built up the audience’s spirits as he performed an encore to his Dancing with the Turlock stars winning performance with partner Nicole Gordon-Couto.
In a distant third was “The Bucket Brigade” with Jim Madsen, Mary Jackson, Dennis Doo and Abe Rojas, who raised $7,109.
The surprise of the event was the reveal of the mysterious donor, Jane Vilas, who had given $50,000 for the past 14 years. Vilas passed away on May 11 this year at 91 years of age.
Turlock Salvation Army Director Major Debi Shrum told the audience that for the past 14 years it was unknown to the public who the donor was — until today.
“I would always thank her and she smirked and winked at me, I miss Jane,” said Shrum.
Vilas was active in the Salvation Army and sat on the for Advisory Board for 13 years. She was a member of the California State University, Stanislaus Foundation Board, donated $75,000 to the University of California, Merced’s stem cell research program and was a founding member of the Emanuel Medical Center Legacy Circle.