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A Tradition of Giving

Salvation Army Launches 111th Fund-Raising Season


Snoopy lumbered out of the train. Lucy momentarily got her big head stuck as she tried to exit. So did Charlie Brown. Linus left the train without his security blanket.

The Peanuts gang then trooped up the steps onto a platform at Knott's Berry Farm's Ghost Town and joined Santa Claus and the Salvation Army on Friday to help launch a fund-raising campaign for Orange County's needy families.

Unlike the Peanuts and Santa Claus characters, Salvation Army volunteers will be doing all the work this season seeking donations.

For the 111th year in the county, the Salvation Army will be setting up those familiar red pails in front of stores during the holidays to collect money for food, clothing and medicine for low-income families.

The annual tradition started in San Francisco, where a Salvation Army captain yanked a massive cooking kettle out of his fireplace and stood on a street corner to solicit more donations for his organization, said Lee Lescano, the Salvation Army's Orange County coordinator.

"It sort of caught on," Lescano said. "It worked so well. [But] I don't think you want to cook out of the ones we make today" for collecting money.

The local group hopes to raise $200,000 this year for 5,800 needy families, he said. Volunteers are expected to set up their pails at more than 50 locations throughout the county, he said.

Though Santa Claus was at the kick-off event, Lescano pointed out that those wearing Santa Claus outfits and asking for donations around the holidays are not Salvation Army volunteers.

The volunteers, he said, will be wearing either red or blue Salvation Army blazers.

Claire Burt, a member of the organization's Orange County advisory board, said the group typically spends only 8% to 10% on administrative costs, far below the 25% spent by many charitable organizations.

"I think the Salvation Army is the best-kept secret in the county for all they do," Burt said. "They're very low-key, but they're always there."

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