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Red kettle donations off to a good start in Glendale

November 21, 2011

The Glendale chapter of the Salvation Army is working to raise about $100,000 this holiday season, sending more of its ubiquitous red kettles to local storefronts on the weekends to capture a piece of the shopping crowd as the nonprofit tries to move past a soft fundraising drive last year.

The number of kettle locations has dropped in recent years as stores have closed and newer retailers have more than one entrance, said Salvation Army Glendale Capt. Rio Ray. Kettle donations were down about $20,000 last year compared to four years ago, he added.

This year, the nonprofit plans to send about nine red kettle bell ringers in front of local retailers on weekdays and up to 15 on weekends.

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The organization’s efforts got off to a strong start on Friday with its annual “Kettle Kickoff,” raising $50,759 — more than the roughly $42,000 last year.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful amount of money that was raised,” Ray said. “We are so thankful for the Kiwanis and Rotary and all the community members who came out to support the Salvation Army.”

At the kickoff, advisory board members served 210 guests breakfast and then brought kettles into the crowd to collect donations. Tickets for the event are $20 and almost everything — from the food to the tablecloths — was donated, Ray said.

The Salvation Army has tried alternative donation options in the past to make giving easier, such as deploying portable credit card machines for shoppers who weren’t carrying cash. But the national organization discontinued that program after about two years.

“The cost of renting the machines basically wiped out the donations we were receiving,” Ray said.

Last year, the Salvation Army began accepting $10 donations via text messages nationwide, which proved successful enough to offer it again this year, Ray said.

The Salvation Army is continuing to pursue digital options, conducting a test run this year of a device called “Square,” which can be attached to an Android smart phone and serves as a credit card machine, according to Jennifer Byrd, public relations director at the Salvation Army’s national headquarters.

The test is being launched in Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Twitter: @markkellam

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