By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
The arrival of the Christmas season each year is highlighted by Christmas lights adorned on neighborhood houses, presents bunched under the Christmas tree, and ringing bells.
Not just the bells on Santa’s sleigh, but those of the Salvation Army as well. They can be heard from the parking lot of many department and grocery stores, an indicator that there will be a bright red kettle accepting donations near the entrance.
As important, that red kettle is a reminder of the good work of the Salvation Army and the difficult situations that too many families have found themselves.
According to Major Kyle Smith, second-in-command of the Salvation Army in Southern California, it was a difficult time fundraising this Christmas season. The Salvation Army started bell ringing later than their traditional start date, the day after Thanksgiving.
Across the Los Angeles area, the Salvation Army has helped “twice as many families this year than last,” said Smith. He noted, though, that there is “always more need than resources available.”
The Glendale Corps of the Salvation Army provides groceries for roughly 450 families a month, housing programs for eight families in the Glendale area and helped hundreds of children have toys last Christmas, according to their website that details the accomplishments of the many Salvation Army programs.
While Christmas is the time when the Salvation Army is most visible, Major Smith added that homelessness happens every day of the year.
Smith told a story about a Glendale family with five children. The main breadwinner of the family had recently lost their job. This meant the children would go without toys were it not for the Salvation Army’s help.
“If you have a toy at Christmas, its not quite as bad,” said Smith. Providing toys becomes a huge part of the Salvation Army’s mission during the holiday season.
During most of the year, the Salvation Army helps homeless families move into shelters and helps them find a job. Major Smith said it makes a big difference when people “get a little help and direction when life has spiraled out of control.”
The Salvation Army has helped many get back on their feet and, despite 2013 being their shortest Christmas season, they continue to help meet the needs of local families.
The Salvation Army collects food and financial donations throughout the year. Although the holidays, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, is a more traditional time of giving there are families in need every month of the year.
With donations down this year, and last, the need for support is greater than ever.
In past interviews with CVW, Rick White, director of social services Salvation Army Glendale, said the economy has affected the donations and those that need help.
More families are in need and less families are able to give.
To donate to the Salvation Army go to www.glendalecorps.org or call (818) 246-5586.