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Salvation Army honors Bulls and White Sox at annual Starlighter Luncheon

Corporate award accepted by Michael Reinsdorf

Photos courtesy of Dennis Belogorsky, BCBSIL

November 17, 2011 – On Thursday, at its annual Starlighter Luncheon, The Salvation Army presented the 2011 Corporate Award to the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox in recognition of their many years of support to The Salvation Army and the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center. Accepting the award was Michael Reinsdorf, President and COO, Chicago Bulls.

The Salvation Army saluted the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox for their long-standing partnership and generous support of a variety of Salvation Army service programs in the community, and for their generous support of the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, which will open in 2012.

A year ago, CharitaBulls and Chicago White Sox Charities made a combined commitment of $2 million to support the completion and endowment of the Kroc Center, which will offer a broad array of sports programs, as well as arts and educational opportunities for people of all ages on the far South Side of Chicago. In the years to come, we will partner on inner-city youth leagues, fitness programs and many other sports and recreational initiatives.

From the EnergizaBulls fitness program, to Bulls/Sox Academy camps, to special days at U.S. Cellular Field and the United Center, the Bulls and the White Sox organizations have brought their unique brand of fitness and sports programs to thousands of children and adults served by The Salvation Army. Team mascots and iconic Chicago sports legends have become a regular component of just about every Salvation Army public event, including Donut Day, Feed the Children and Celebrity Bell Ringing.

"We are celebrating the Chicago Bulls and the White Sox for all they do throughout the year and throughout Chicagoland to enhance the lives of millions of children and young adults,” said Lt. Colonel Ralph Bukiewicz, Metropolitan Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army. “The Kroc Center will open in the Spring of 2012, and we want to make sure that the state-of-the-art sports and recreational facilities are bustling with all kinds of activities, sporting events, youth leagues and people of all ages getting fit, playing and learning. Fortunately, The Salvation Army has two terrific partners in the Bulls and the White Sox in making that happen.”

Leaders from Chicago’s business and philanthropic communities came together at Starlighter to celebrate the season and kick-off The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, which generates nearly 70 percent of the funds used year round to provide programs and services to people in need. Red kettles will be on the streets through December 24th, and the Red Kettle campaign, through online donations and other gifts, will continue through January 31, 2012. This event recognizes The Salvation Army’s friends and donors for their continued support. This year’s campaign goal is $13 million.

Phil Rogers of NBC5 served as Master of Ceremonies. James Pajakowski, executive vice president of Global Risk Solutions for Protiviti, and a member of The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division Board, will chair the Army’s Red Kettle campaign for a second year.

“I am honored to have been invited once again to head this year’s campaign,” said Pajakowski, who is based in Protiviti’s Chicago office. “The Salvation Army is the largest direct provider of social services to those in need in the Chicagoland area. Times are still very tough out there. A recent Census Bureau study reported that 1 in 5 children are living in poverty. And more and more people are turning to the Army for help. I hope that people will find it in their hearts to support the red kettles again this year. The generosity of Chicagoans has never ceased to amaze me, even during tough times.”