The familiar bells began ringing outside local businesses on Friday as the Salvation Army in Glendale launched its annual holiday fundraising campaign to help the needy, but this year’s effort could prove more challenging because due to the loss of some store locations.

The Albertson’s market on South Central Avenue, which closed last month, was a regular spot for bell ringers for several years, said Capt. Rio Ray, who heads up the local chapter of the Salvation Army.

There will be 15 red kettles out in the field this year, he added.

Last year, the Salvation Army raised $50,000 with its fundraising campaign, and Ray plans to raise the same amount this holiday season even with fewer locations.

“That was 40 extra days of bell ringing,” he said, referring to the Albertson’s site.

Four years ago, Ray and the Salvation Army’s advisory board launched a breakfast which is held on the first day of the bell-ringing campaign in order to raise funds to enhance kettle donations, which he could see even at that point were starting to decline because of the souring economy.

The first breakfast raised about $3,500. Compare that to last year, when the same event raked in $60,000 — $10,000 more than the entire bell-ringing campaign, Ray said.

About 200 people were slated to attend this year’s breakfast at the Salvation Army, which was coordinated by the organization’s advisory board.

“We have a committed advisory board that is determined to help the Salvation Army reach out to people who are in need,” Ray said.

The money raised goes to help the needy through a variety of community services, such as an after-school program, food pantry and transitional shelter, Ray said.

In the past four years, Ray has seen the number of people assisted grow by 200%.

“We hope to do more with less,” he said, adding that the organization’s holiday toy drive will be expanded this year.

The Salvation Army now has 62 kids signed up for its after-school program, 1,000 people are served by the food pantry each month and four families are living in the transitional shelter, Ray said.

Four more families are living in apartments through an arrangement with the Salvation Army.

-- Mark Kellam, Times Community News

Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter: @LAMarkKellam