Salvation Army Holds Kettle Kickoff Dinner

Capts. Natalia and Kelly Berggren greeted guests at the Kettle Kickoff Dinner on Thursday evening.
Photos by Robin GOLDSWORTHY


The Salvation Army – Glendale launched the holidays with its Kettle Kickoff Dinner on Thursday evening, Nov. 17. Held at the Hall of the Crucifixion-Resurrection at Forest Lawn – Glendale, the Hall was decked out with colorful trees, bright poinsettias and decorated tables ready to be filled by supporters of the 187-year-old organization.

The Salvation Army – Glendale offers support in many different ways – from providing food to those in need to offering the Zone after-school program, a vibrant free program that provides homework assistance and recreational activity for children ages 6-13.

Fritz Coleman, a supporter of the Salvation Army, hosted the night’s festivities.

At the Kettle Kickoff Dinner ­– named for the holiday bell ringers and bright red kettles that many associate with the Salvation Army – comedian Fritz Coleman hosted the night’s festivities. These included moving testimonials from Capt. Kelly Berggren of the Salvation Army – Glendale and Capt. J. Koebel. Each detailed their path to the Salvation Army, much littered with substance abuse, though each started their life journey in much different circumstances. Their stories, as diverse as they were, were related to by everyone in the room.

Dignitaries included City of Glendale Mayor Ardy Kassakhian and Page Whyte.

However, as Capt. Kelly shared, “My life is more than I ever thought it could be.”

The pair also offered bite-sized bits of information that could be quickly received by the audience. These “Did you know?” bits included the background of the Salvation Army and its outreach programs. For example, the Salvation Army served 3 million meals last year in Southern California. Also, the well-known service Meals on Wheels is actually a Salvation Army program, and the Salvation Army is a major provider of overnight shelter. Everyone in the room learned something new about this longtime organization.

Former City of Glendale police chief (and Montrose Christmas Parade grand marshal) Carl Povilaitis and GUSD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kelly King with Salvation Army Advisory Board member and Kettle Kickoff Dinner organizer Sharon Townsend.

One of the main goals of the night, though, was to raise awareness of the red kettles and how donations received benefit the programs offered by the Salvation Army.

As Capt. Berggren said, “When change goes in, change comes out.”

To learn more about the Salvation Army – Glendale, visit