Community Fills Kettle at Salvation Army Kickoff

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Photo by Erin Rodick / OUTLOOK Salvation Army Captains Terry and Rutendo Masango opened the Pasadena Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle drive with the organization’s fun-filled Kickoff Breakfast inside the UCLA locker room in the Rose Bowl last Friday, with 300 people attending the event.
Photo by Erin Rodick / OUTLOOK
Salvation Army Captains Terry and Rutendo Masango opened the Pasadena Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle drive with the organization’s fun-filled Kickoff Breakfast inside the UCLA locker room in the Rose Bowl last Friday, with 300 people attending the event.

Kathy Larson, the advisory board chair for the Pasadena Salvation Army, admitted to sneaking out to the Rose Bowl Stadium the weekend preceding the organization’s Kettle Kickoff so she could set up one of the Salvation Army’s iconic donation kettles.
As she was approached by a gentleman while setting up, she thought he was probably one of the shoppers at the weekly flea market in the stadium. She had assumed he would, at best, empty out whatever loose change was in his pocket into the kettle. He instead slipped in a $20 bill.
“He said, ‘Salvation Army saved my life,’” Larson said, giving opening remarks for the Kettle Kickoff inside the same stadium last week. “There were probably 20,000 people in there that day, and I heard that three times. And they all put money in the kettle.”
This success story is one of countless associated with the local Salvation Army branch, which raised $60,124 last Friday during its Kettle Kickoff breakfast in the UCLA locker room (“They’ve really used the Febreze well in here,” quipped emcee Fritz Coleman, the NBC-4 weatherman) at the Rose Bowl Stadium.
The bulk of the money came from sponsorships to buy into the breakfast, but an auction for a tour of Jay Leno’s private car garages raked in $6,000 and a little school rivalry also churned up some dollars. The kickoff, usually held just before the rivalry football game between the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans at the stadium, included kettles for each school, in which fans excitedly stuffed donations in a light-hearted effort to outdo their opponents.
“If this goes well, later on we’re going to vote on tax reform,” joked Coleman.
It went well; USC fans turned in $11,174 and UCLA fans $8,451. Keynote speaker Steve Carlston, president and general manager of NBC-4, said this was an example of the community linking together to help prop itself up. He used the redwood tree as a metaphor, because its shallow root system actually spreads wide out to keep itself stable.
“Each of us has the responsibility to turn on our light and live connected,” he said. “The redwood lives connected every day. You ever see a redwood tip over? No, because they live connected with their friends.”
Carlston said that philosophy has allowed him to personally lend a helping hand when it was needed most and that he’s witnessed a multitude of such acts elsewhere. Because there are more than 7 billion people on the planet, Carlston said we should all honor the intersections we have with individual people.
The Salvation Army, Carlston added, does an exceptional job in connecting with and propping up the most vulnerable members of the community, as did the multitude of other nonprofits and organizations.
“If you live in Pasadena, you should care about the Salvation Army,” he said. “You should care about the Kiwanis Club. You should care about the Boys and Girls Club.”
The Salvation Army’s work was evident. Two women gave personal testimonials at the kickoff about where they were now as compared to when they first connected with the organization.
Taneya Garrett told the audience about growing up with a methamphetamine-addicted mother who had schizophrenia, and how she turned to the drug herself as a preteen in an attempt to connect with her mom. Garrett had a child at 16 (whom she gave to the father’s mother) and was pregnant again at 18 when she was arrested and ultimately reached out to the Salvation Army.
“The people at the Salvation Army didn’t care that I was a drug addict or didn’t have an education,” she said. “They just wanted to love me.”
Garrett is now a pastor with the Salvation Army Church in Pasadena.
Lisa Ummel explained she was struggling with alcoholism when she found the organization (in fact, she was sent home from rehab the first time because she didn’t show up sober). Once homeless, without custody of her children and having a litany of arrest warrants shadowing her, Ummel is on the cusp of obtaining her master’s degree from USC and recently was entrusted with a company credit card at her job.
“I cried,” she said, “because the kind of person I used to be … you hid your credit cards around me.
“Thanks to this program, my life is completely different today,” Ummel added.

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