Kettle season is underway

The Salvation Army Glendale launched its holiday kettle drive on Friday, marking the beginning of the nonprofit's all-important annual fundraiser.

Salvation Army workers and volunteers will ring bells outside supermarkets for the next several weeks, asking shoppers to drop money into red kettles to help provide food, clothing and other necessities to impoverished families in the region.

"This time of year, there is something in the human condition that makes you want to help others, and the Salvation Army is a great way to do that," said David Pies, a longtime Salvation Army supporter and member of Glendale Sunrise Kiwanis.

Members of the Salvation Army board of directors and other supporters helped serve breakfast to community leaders in a fundraiser meant to get the campaign off to a fast start. A four-piece brass band played familiar holiday melodies in the corner of the Salvation Army gym as people placed bids on holiday baskets.

Rio Ray, captain of the Salvation Army Glendale Corps, said he hopes this year's drive tops the 2009 take of $56,500, about 20% less than in 2008. The sponsorship breakfast is the first step toward beating that goal.

The Salvation Army will again have credit card terminals — a recent and controversial innovation — at two locations this year.

"We would put more machines out, but they haven't been incredibly successful, and we've found that most of our donors prefer the traditional change and bill approach," Rio said in an e-mail.

Nearly $20,000 of last year's take came in the form of change and $1 bills, Ray said.

Zaven Khanjian of Glendale walked out of the breakfast with plans to ring the bell outside the Vons supermarket in La Crescenta. His wife said she may join him in the parking lot.

"She sure can join me because the bucket will be heavy," Khanjian said.

According to the Salvation Army, 83 cents out of every donated dollar directly supports regional programs, such as after-school programs, crisis centers for youth and domestic abuse victims. Meal deliveries to seniors and infirm people, as well as subsidies for the transportation, utilities and other costs of poor and homeless families.

"Supporting all of these wonderful programs requires money, and one of our most successful fundraisers year after year is the kettle season," Rio said. "We find that people in our community are moved to give when our red kettles go out in front of stores during Thanksgiving and Christmas."

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