BEDFORD — It's 9:30 am on a Friday, but there is already a crowd at Pennington Field. City officials from maintenance teams to Mayors wander the pavement beside the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District stadium. As ten o'clock draws near, they begin to swirl and separate. School busses arrive, each welcomed with a garland of cargo webbing.
Soon, five teams in five different t-shirt colors stand in formation in front of each bus. Cargo straps in hand, they tense and stretch, waiting for a call to action. Together, they will pull roughly thirty tons of machinery the length of the parking lot. It's not a typical Friday morning for most communities. But for three cities, it's tradition.
Kids Without Christmas
Every year, 6 Stones provides Christmas for at-risk children in this community. Over the last five years, the number of children served by ‘Night of Hope‘ has risen exponentially. This year, the mark is 4,000.
Low-income families qualify for support through a partnership with the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District. The district sends information home with students who qualify for free lunch, and their parents sign up through an online portal at 6 Stones. Then, the community bears the cost of Christmas for its least fortunate members. At $65 per child, Night of Hope will cost $260,000 in 2017.
As the number of children supported by Night of Hope expanded, the community stepped up to cover the increasing cost. The City of Euless, along with the school district and neighboring communities in Hurst and Bedford, launched an independent fundraiser to ease the financial burden. Local businesses — most notably Classic Chevrolet and U.S. Concrete Redi-Mix — jumped on board, and Pulling for Hope was born.
Pulling for Hope
To participate in the annual Bus Pull, teams from each city and partnering organization contribute an entry fee of $15,000. After that, individual donors can contribute to their team's account in order to knock seconds off the clock at the event. While the first team to drag their bus across the finish line has a clear advantage, they aren't the guaranteed winner. The title does to whichever group can post the lowest adjusted score.
The result is a friendly competition that has raised over $100,000 every year since its inception. While all proceeds benefit 6 Stones, Pulling for Hope is not a 6 Stones event. It's a community event; organized and executed by our partners in HEB. This year, teams combined to give $117,000; Christmas for 1,800 children. Almost half of those registered for support.
But that's only part of the story. While the financial power of the event is striking, the most impressive thing about it is the unity it creates. Without pause, men and women from all over HEB come together for our most vulnerable citizens. Our neighbors work shoulder-to-shoulder to support those who cannot stand on their own.
And, in doing so, they become a stronger community.
This community is unique in many ways, but its defining trait is its willingness to set aside differences for the common good. That's how 4,000 children get Christmas even though their parents can't afford it. How city governments and schools and churches can join hands to provide for those kids. And it's the way dragging busses across an unseasonably warm parking lot became tradition.