Lending a helping hand during this holiday season

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”



Crescenta Valley has a reputation as a giving community. That attribute will be put to the test this holiday season as more families are in need than ever before and charitable organizations are working overtime to secure donations.

“We have seen an increase in need,” said Capt. Rio Ray of the Glendale Salvation Army. “For example, 18 months ago the most clients we saw in one day was 16. In one day this September we saw 80.”

A client is a person who comes to the Salvation Army office in Glendale to receive food. They can represent an individual or a family. Food is given according to their need.

“On average we now see about 30 clients a day,” Ray said.

The families that come to the organization will receive a substantial amount of food. An individual will be given two grocery bags with non-perishable items as well as some bread, eggs and meat.

The Salvation Army helps families in Glendale, La Crescenta and La Cañada however they will not turn down those in need that are not from the area.

“We just had a large food drive sponsored by the Boy Scouts that really helped us out. We get about 75% of our food from drives but we also need funds to keep up with the supply [and demand]. With the families increasing, that averages to about $40,000 of additional food,” Ray said.

The Crescenta Valley Sheriff Volunteer Annual Food and Toy Drive is now underway. They too are expecting an increase in need this season.

“Right now we are at about 130 families and that number is going to grow,” said Deputy Jorge Valdivia.

He added that he is getting phone calls from families daily. Last year the organization donated to 170 families.

“Right now the calls are about equal to last year but my guess is it is going to go up quite a bit [before Christmas],” he added.

For over 20 years the sheriff volunteers have placed the familiar CV Sheriffs Volunteer Toy and Food Drive donation barrels at local grocery stores and businesses. Joanne Berg has worked the drive for many years and knows first hand how important these donations are to families in need.

The volunteers take the donations to a location where they are organized and packaged for the local families in need.

“We need can goods and non perishable items that are non-breakable. As for toys we always need more for children 10 to 16 years old,” Berg said.

The volunteers will give toys and food along with a grocery gift card to each family. They are looking for donations of food, toys and cash.

“We try to give each family a card for at least $20. If we have an increase in families to 200 that will mean $4,000 [will be needed],” she said.

Deputies and volunteers personally deliver the items to families.

The barrels are at local businesses like Tom’s Toys and at Ralphs and Vons markets in La Crescenta.

Although the economy has shown some signs of recovery there are still many families that are facing the holidays without jobs and in fear of losing their home. Organizations throughout California and the nation have reported donations down while demand is up.

“There is always in the back of [my mind] the worry of what if we don’t have enough but God has been so good to us we are okay for now. The fear is that this food that was [gathered] by the Boy Scouts will only last us this month,” Ray said.

To donate to the CV Sheriffs Volunteer Annual Toy and Food Drive place non perishable food items or unwrapped new toys in the barrels at local markets, businesses and the CV Sheriff’s Station at 4554 Briggs Ave. Monetary donations are welcome and can be made at the sheriff’s station. Checks should be made out to the CVS Volunteers Toy and Food Drive. For information or families in need contact Deputy Jorge Valdivia at (818) 236-4021.

To donate to the Glendale Salvation Army visit its website at www.glendalecorps.org or donate to the food pantry by contacting Rick White (818) 246-5586. To make a donation, mail to  Salvation Army Glendale Corps, 320 W. Windsor Road, Glendale 91204 or, of course, place money in the red bucket at the local grocery stores.

“We take cash, check or change,” Ray added.

“A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” – Jack London