Join us on #GivingTuesday!

 

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday!

On the heels of major shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community and we’ve got big plans to help you do just that.

This #GivingTuesday, we’ve curated a full day of impressive facts and real stories showing the impact that you’re helping The Salvation Army make in your community. These facts and stories will be posted on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts all day long. There is also an interactive donation campaign that will allow you to see the direct impact your contribution makes on the automatically updating thermometer—check our website and social media accounts tomorrow for the one-day-only link. You can even leave a comment telling the world why you chose to support The Salvation Army!

Download our free printable #UNselfie sign (like in the photo above) to share how you #GiveForGood on your own social media. Whatever way you choose to give back with The Salvation Army this #GivingTuesday, we would love to see it—please tag us (@salarmyalm) in your post and we might even share it!

Tomorrow is going to be a great day & we hope you’ll join us!

Finding A New Path

Stanly Cochren has found his path. He lost it for a while, but with a little help and a lot of work, he’s found what he calls his opportunity to get everything straight. “After I paroled out of prison my life was on a downward spiral. Before I came here, I didn’t have a job. I got on my drug of choice and that led me to be homeless,” says Stanly. Originally from Talladega, his circumstances led to his looking for a way out of a bad situation. He found that way at The Salvation Army shelter in Montgomery, AL.

That pathway out began with wanting more for his life. Lt. Bryan Farrington, Montgomery Salvation Army Corps Officer, says that meeting with those in need begins with finding out what those needs are. “We call it life on life. We ask how we can help you move forward in life,” says Lt. Farrington. “If a person may be in a bad situation but doesn’t want help, you can give them resources to help but chances are they will consume the resources and be right back in the same place.” So, when a person in Stanly’s situation arrives at the Corps office or shelter, they usually have a reason to seek out a better way to live their life. “I just got tired of being tired,” says Stanly. “Until you come to that realization that you got people out there that are genuinely trying to help you, you’re going to be complacent in the situation that you’re in.”

One of those people is Camille Gross, the social worker for The Salvation Army in Montgomery. “I interact with approximately 20 clients on a daily basis.” From food to clothing vouchers and assistance with bills, Camille is there to help clients in tough times find their way out. “I assist them with getting medicines. Steering them into the pathways for different services that we don’t provide. I can set up appoints for them. Provide transportation. We do everything that we can here for the residents on a daily basis,” Camille says.

Lt. Farrington says that his shelter is a place to find help, but for those willing to make a greater effort, it can be a place to find hope as well. “Right now what we have is an emergency shelter. That’s for a person who is homeless and doesn’t have a place to go. They can stay here, no questions asked for a period of two weeks. They can eat, take showers at night. It’s for someone who’s fallen on hard times.” Finding a temporary respite is, however, only the beginning. “This is not just that you’re here for a while and then you’re gone. (We can be) a partner in life to help you walk out of a trap, so that you have some means to keep your life stable,” Farrington says.

Some of those partners are people in the community who have given their time and resources to offer help to those in need. Camille does double duty as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Montgomery Corps. From ringing bells for the Red Kettle campaign to donations of food and clothing, local volunteers are a key part of what The Salvation Army has to offer. “We always need volunteers at our soup kitchen. We also utilize the volunteers at our donation center to help with sorting the donations that come in.” Camille says.

As for Stanly, he says that he has further to go. He has completed classes and now works two jobs, seven days a week. “It’s a lot of work, but being out in my old life, it was a lot harder.” Now, on his new path, Stanly hopes that those in need of help can find the same chance he did. “You’ve got to want it. I just want to say that if you’re out there and you’re looking for a turnaround in your life, give this program, The Salvation Army, a chance to just help you get it right.”

Revitalization in Anniston, Alabama

When the community of Anniston, AL sees their Salvation Army, they may only see the surface. They can see the Red Kettle in front of a local business, but they may not know where that kettle goes and how far its contents must stretch. They can see the Angel Tree, but they may not know how many more of those Angels they could serve. On the surface are bells ringing though the holidays, but for every bell there are many more who serve and who are served.

The Salvation Army is not a kettle or a bell. Those are windows into the work done by Anniston Corps Officers, Lts. Damon and Jennifer Graham. A person walking past the kettle does not see the food pantry, stocked with donations from the community and distributed by volunteers like John Holcomb. That passer-by may see an old building, but they do not see Lashun Mcgrew, meeting with clients to help them find resources to pay bills or feed young bellies. The Salvation Army is a church whose ministry is to do the most good where it is most needed.

The building is old. A former Coca Cola distribution center, it has served as the Corps office of The Salvation Army in Anniston since the 1950s. But inside, Lt. Jennifer Graham is working on rebuilding the foundations of that building and its place in the community. Not the building itself, but the organization, and their continuing mission to bring hope to those in need. They have traditionally had a shelter for those without a home, but Lt. Graham would like to see more. “I believe that the community does need an emergency shelter and a shelter for women and children and a transitional living shelter. But all those need the case management piece where we’re able to help clients not stay here long term, but to help them to be successful on their own.”

Case management is a means to help individuals rebuild their own foundation. Lashun Mcgrew is the Social Service Coordinator at the Anniston Corps office, and she is one part of that long-term goal. “There is a lack of affordable housing in the area. There are a lot of people on minimal income,” says Mcgrew. “They are using a lot of their income trying to keep a roof over their head.” Helping people find their way to self-sufficiency is part of the mission, but for some of the people that Mcgrew works with, the challenge begins with the having a place to call home.

One of those who has been served is John Holcomb. Originally from Georgia, he moved to the area in 2000 as a contractor for a gas company, but over time that work came to an end and he found himself in difficult circumstances. He had lost contact with his family and was in need of a hand up. “They helped me out when I needed it,” says John. “I wish there were more places like this.” Thankfully, John has taken that hand up and found opportunities for change. He has reconnected with his son in South Carolina, and uses his time at the shelter to volunteer in the food pantry. “I like helping people,” John says.

Rebuilding foundations is part of the mission. And that mission goes on with the support of the community. “In order for our doors to stay open, of course we need the support of the community,” says Lt. Jennifer Graham. “We can offer some assistance, and we can connect clients with other organizations that can help with rent and other services.” And that is just the beginning of the plans that Lt. Graham has for the Anniston Salvation Army Corps. She says that she plans a return of their youth ministry as part of The Salvation Army’s traditional character-building mission. Another foundation of the community itself, being rebuilt with the support of those who want to be a part of that revitalization.