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Salvation Army Launches Largest Yearly Fundraiser, While Adult Rehabilitation Center Struggles

Salvation Army trucks parked in the nonprofit's Adult Rehabilitation Center l...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: Salvation Army trucks parked in the nonprofit's Adult Rehabilitation Center loading dock downtown, Nov. 13, 2017.

The Salvation Army’s bell ringers are now outside stores with their red kettles. The organization kicked off its largest funding campaign of the year Monday.

"Last year we were at about $850,000," said Salvation Army Major George Baker, who oversees the San Diego region for the nonprofit. "We’re hoping to see an increase to about $900,000 this year.”

Baker said the Red Kettle fundraiser supports a variety of programs.

"Initially it goes to help pay our holiday assistance programs," he said. "To help provide food and toys for needy families and children to help with our large feeding programs that we do on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day."

However, the cash donations will not benefit the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), which serves people recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. The ARC relies solely on donations of clothing and used goods, which the organization said have been down lately.

“We basically had no trailers, and no donations in the warehouse," said ARC Production Manager James Durland. "We were all standing around, looking at each other and saying, 'How did this happen?'”

Photo credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center main entrance downtown, Nov. 13, 2017.

Durland said donations are distributed to seven different Salvation Army thrift stores in San Diego County. Those sales fund the treatment, food and supplies for ARC, which takes in 127 people every six months.

“The men and women that come to us with basically nothing on their back," Durland said. "We do not charge them anything.”

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A former drug and alcohol abuser, Durland went through the program himself and wants to see it continue.

“That’s what I think about every day," he said. "I have to make sure that this place stays afloat and functioning for that person who was hopeless and lost like I was 8 years ago, actually 9 years ago. I don’t know what would have happened to me, I don’t know if I’d be alive.”

Durland said normally there is a downturn in non-cash donations during the holiday season, but he says it has never been this low. He said he is worried about what it could mean for the ARC.

"There’s a lot of things they’re talking about in reduction in services or reduction in the ability to have as many men as we do have," Durland said. "A lot of things are on the table when money’s not there.”

The local Salvation Army said it hopes to raise $900,000 from the Red Kettle Program this year, but its Adult Rehabilitation Center is dealing with a lack of non-cash donations.

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