'Tis the season for Salvation Army bell-ringers, but in San Diego, the donation kettles already appear to be full.

Joan Kroc, 70, heiress to the McDonald's fast-food fortune, has donated $80 million to the San Diego division of the Salvation Army. The donation is the largest ever received by the 133-year-old organization and the philanthropist's largest charitable gift.

The contribution will finance the design and construction of the 12-acre Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center, which will include a gymnasium, ball fields, ice-skating rink, swimming pool, performing arts center, and English- and Spanish-speaking worship centers. Construction is scheduled to begin in spring.

The donation also creates a $40 million endowment to underwrite future facilities maintenance and program management. The center will offer childcare, programs for the elderly, and special classes using a state-of-the-art computer-only library.

Prompted by a visit last year to some of the city's poorest neighborhoods, Kroc told the Salvation Army she wanted to help the city's children. Even with the contribution, bell-ringers will be out in full force this Christmas in San Diego, where the agency has 26 other programs that cost $31 million annually to support.

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: