Mother and baby enjoying the pool at a Kroc Center

In 1998, Mrs. Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, donated $90 million to The Salvation Army to build a comprehensive community center in San Diego, California. Her wish was to create a center, supported in part by the community, where children and families would be exposed to different people, activities and arts that would otherwise be beyond their reach. Completed in 2001, the center sits on 12 acres and offers an ice arena, gymnasium, three pools, rock climbing walls, a performing arts theatre, an internet-based library, computer lab, and a school of visual and performing arts.

When Mrs. Kroc passed away in October 2003, she left $1.5 billion - much of her estate - to The Salvation Army, by far the largest charitable gift ever given to the Army, and the largest single gift given to any charity at one time. The initial disbursements of this bequest began in January 2005. The gift had by then grown to $1.8 billion and was split evenly among the four Army Territories - Central, East, South and West. The money was designated to build a series of state-of-the-art Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers nationwide patterned after the San Diego center.

In the Western US,  The Salvation Army is currently operating five Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers including the original center in San Diego. In addition to the San Diego center, locations include Honolulu, HI,Coeur d'Alene, ID; Salem, OR, San Francisco, CA, Phoenix, AZ, and Suisun City, CA.