NORMAN — Pre-game buzz on Campus Corner had an added flair of holiday generosity Saturday afternoon.
In addition to a few of the familiar holiday Salvation Army bell-ringers with the little red collection kettles, a massive red kettle and podium stationed at the intersection of Boyd Street and Asp Avenue was the site of some big contributions from Campus Corner merchants.
“Originally we were just going to have the small buckets stationed around the area, but I wanted to make it bigger,” O’Connell’s owner Jeff Stewart said.
Notice was somewhat last-minute, but Stewart was able to rally neigboring business owners and the Salvation Army’s special big kettle for a pre-game donation event featuring a finale with Santa Claus himself.
“We had some business owners who wanted to participate but were unable due to the need for extra gameday staff,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to get more organized for more things like this.”
In spite of the last-minute preparation and Campus Corner gameday frenzy, eight business owners or representatives (in addition to Stewart himself) donated an estimated $800, with Santa Claus topping it off with a sack full of $500 cash.
“Gameday on Campus Corner was more than a success,” said Boys & Girls Clubs Executive Director Richard White, emcee for the event. “We were so happy with the merchants’ generosity and had a fantastic time, it was very fun.”
The Salvation Army has set this year’s holiday collection goal for the region at more than $500,000, with Cleveland County’s estimated share totaling around $110,000 based on population.
With generous participation from Campus Corner merchants and numbers still pending on collections from crowds of Sooner fans, White said this likely will become an annual tradition.
“This was our first year and I think we can grow it. It was really admirable for all of these merchants to come out on a gameday when it’s so busy, I personally thanked each of them and I certainly hope next year will be bigger,” Stewart said.