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Fundraising on the downslide

GLENDALE — Nonprofit officials across the region have been able to meet an ever growing need for food and toys this holiday season, but they say they’re worried about keeping up with the demand into next year.

Donations for the Salvation Army Glendale’s iconic red kettle campaign are down 50% compared to two years ago, officials reported Wednesday.

As of Wednesday morning, the annual fundraising drive had netted roughly $35,000 — less than half the $75,000 raised during the 2008 holiday season, said Rick White, director of social services for the nonprofit.

Officials had said they were hoping to at least beat the 2009 take of $56,500 this year to help the nonprofit keep up with unprecedented demand during the ongoing recession.


“I think people are starting to pull back because the economy hasn’t turned around,” White said. “Everyone was more optimistic last Christmas that this year would be better, and it hasn’t been.”

As Salvation Army officials looked to the end of the kettle campaign, other local nonprofits and food banks were pushing to make their final food and toy distributions to needy families.

“The donations have been very generous this year,” said Tanya Gregorian, the Glendale Fire Department’s public education coordinator who oversees the Spark of Love toy drive. “But what I’ve noticed is the need has been greater. People have been wanting more this year than year’s past.”

As of Wednesday, Glendale firefighters had already distributed roughly 3,500 toys, even as requests from individuals, churches and other nonprofits continued to come in, she said.


“The fire department has so far been able to not turn anybody away,” she said.

Several other community organizations also organized various toy drives throughout the holiday season to help parents who weren’t able to buy Christmas gifts.

“It’s not just the gift giving and making these kids happy,” said former Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian, a member of the Glendale Kiwanis Club, which “adopts” several families each year. “It’s the emotion you see on the parents’ faces.”

In Burbank, roughly 1,600 kids have received toys through the Santa’s Room program at the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, said Executive Director Barbara Howell.

The nonprofit has also given out holiday food baskets, including turkeys and hams, to nearly 500 families, she said.

“Each year, we continue to say, ‘We have more people. We have greater need,’” she said. “They say the economy is turning around. But honestly, we aren’t feeling it here. I worry about how we are going to keep up with the need.”

Officials at the Salvation Army said they have the same concern.

“We have a slogan, ‘Needs know no season,’” White said. “It’s going to be really hard for us to continue to help people into the spring of next year unless things pick up.”