United in kettle kickoff

GLENDALE — With demand for services jumping 200% in two years, Salvation Army Glendale officials said this year’s holiday fundraising season is more important than ever.

The organization’s red kettles have been placed at dealerships along the Brand Boulevard of Cars and other locations in preparation for the fundraising campaign.

“Our hope is this preseason will help us jump-start and have a really good kettle season,” said Capt. Rio Ray of Salvation Army Glendale.

The organization, which operates a food bank, a Meals on Wheels delivery service and other social services, has seen a daily average of 30 to 40 people seeking services, Ray said.

On one day, the agency served 80 people, compared with a high of 16 people 18 months ago, he added.

About 70% of the Salvation Army Glendale annual $1.1-million budget comes from private donors.

The campaign comes at a time when nonprofits are struggling to cope with dwindling donations. Individual charitable donations declined by almost 6% in 2008, according to the Giving USA Foundation. The nation’s largest nonprofit organizations expect another 9% drop in the coming year, according to a study released last month by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“It’s always the fear on the back of every nonprofit’s mind — will we have enough money to continue to do our mission?” Ray said.

The kickoff of the official kettle fundraising season starts Nov. 20 with the annual Kettle Kick Off Breakfast for $20.

Twenty kettles will be placed throughout the city, including three that take credit cards.

Last year, Glendale was the first location in Southern California to offer the electronic kettles, Ray said. This year, several other areas will be trying them.

Stephen Ropfogel, a Salvation Army Glendale board member who has been as a bell ringer, said he is most surprised by people’s willingness to donate during hard times.

“People really step up to the plate,” he said. “When I have done things such as the bell ringing, it amazes me how wonderfully generous individuals are, especially those people that when they walk by you think they would be people looking for services. Yet they dig deep down into their pocket.”

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