Salvation Army under siege Anne Arundel County: Charity must relocate its Glen Burnie outpost during kettle drive.

August 21, 1996

TWO YEARS AGO, when North Arundel's Salvation Army moved to a new headquarters in the Glen Plaza Shopping Center along Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, it was able to double its space. The location seemed ideal. It was near the No. 17 bus line that runs from Pasadena to Baltimore. The new premises had storage space and the rent was reasonable.

Recently, though, the Salvation Army got some bad news. It was told that its two-year lease would not be renewed when it expires Dec. 1. Worse yet, the Salvation Army must vacate its current facility in the middle of the kettle drive -- its major annual fund-raising event -- unless it gets a reprieve.

This is not the first time the Salvation Army has been under siege in Anne Arundel County, nor does it promise to be the last. In fact, when the first branch of that organization was established in Annapolis in the 1880s, its workers were reportedly poorly received by residents.

"Not accustomed to the Salvation Army's street approach to religion, the people ridiculed its members," a historian wrote of the organization. "In a very short time, however, the earnest piety of the Army members impressed others, and it began to grow."

Losing its lease comes at a bad time for the Salvation Army, which has been postponing the acquisition of its own building, citing a scarcity of lots near downtown Glen Burnie. Even as needs continue increasing, funding from sources such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency keeps decreasing. Meanwhile, the crucial Christmas-time kettle drive has been having trouble attracting volunteers. Donations from that drive are so important they account for about a quarter of the local group's $200,000 operating budget.

The Salvation Army, which receives part of its funding from the United Way, is one of those non-profit organizations whose role is becoming more important as budget cuts and welfare reforms curtail governmental programs. "They are so instrumental in getting help to families in this area," said Del. Mary Ann Love, a Glen Burnie Democrat.

The Salvation Army's current predicament could be a blessing in disguise if it persuades the organization to finally acquire a permanent home.

Pub Date: 8/21/96

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