Cookie cash boosts Red Cross efforts

GLENDALE — Enthusiasm for President-elect Barack Obama around the region, where voters helped the Illinois Democrat land a resounding win on election day, did not just extend to the voting booth.

At Porto’s Bakery in Burbank and Glendale, where customers were able to purchase cookies adorned in the symbols of their preferred political party, Democratic donkey-shaped cookies outnumbered Republican-style elephant cookies by a more than 2-to-1 margin.

The high volume of cookies sold — 8,773 during the nominating process — included 5,048 in Glendale and 3,725 in Burbank. Democratic-themed cookies in Glendale outnumbered the Republican pastries 1,645 to 3,403.

In Burbank, Democratic enthusiasts purchased 2,588 cookies to 1,137 Republican ones.

“It was a fun thing to do,” owner Betty Porto said. “Everyone got into it.”

This week, Porto donated $3,246 — 20% of the proceeds from the $1.85 cookies — to the local chapter of the American Red Cross. The money will be given to the national Red Cross organization for its hurricane relief efforts following the devastating storms that battered the Gulf Coast regions of Texas and Louisiana earlier this year, Porto said.

“People knew it was going for a good cause,” she said.

In September, hurricanes Ike and Gustav ravaged the Caribbean, Florida and Gulf Coast region, killing hundreds, stranding thousands and causing billions of dollars’ worth of damage to infrastructure and homes.

Funds will be spent supporting ground operations in storm-ravaged areas and not local functions, said Ron Farina, the executive director of the Glendale-Crescenta Red Cross Valley Chapter.

The local chapter sent seven volunteers to affected areas after the hurricanes struck, though all have since returned.

Even if local residents will not benefit from the donation, Farina believes it is important to continue donating to national causes in times of disaster, especially given that Southern California could soon be under the emergency spotlight itself if an earthquake rattles the region.

“We have to be supportive of the national disaster relief program,” he said.

“If the big one hits, we will be part of the national picture.”

Porto expects the bakery to hold another cookie poll in the near future — and is aiming to capture customers’ attention — but is cognizant that certain topics might be off limits.

“In the future, we want to do something controversial,” she said.

“But we’ll stay away from Prop. 8 [which banned same-sex marriage] and holidays. Those things are very personal.”

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