Salvation Army Offers Winter Storm Disaster Services

An uncertain winter weather forecast materialized throughout the ALM Division during the week of February 14, 2021, resulting in back-to-back winter storms. Road conditions became treacherous, with overpasses and bridges beginning to ice. An all-time record was reached with seven consecutive days below 35 degrees, and on most of those days, temperatures were below freezing. The first storm system crippled much of Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, resulting in road closures, traffic accidents, and power outages. Tens of thousands of residents were without power at the peak of the storm system, and many are still dealing with water pressure issues. The Salvation Army is committed to serving the most vulnerable members of our community, so our 24/7 cold weather shelters remained open as necessary to provide a safe environment.

Volunteers were recruited to comfort clients and assist shelters with public feedings.

“Those volunteers are living, breathing human beings who choose to be with the guests who are hurting, who are troubled in life quite often,” said Major Bradley Caldwell, Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Commanding Officer. “That person just sitting with them, and just hearing their story, giving them a smile makes a difference just as much as the food and the shelter do.”

“We have people that have found their way here and others who have been directed here by police or the hospital,” added Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis, Shreveport, Louisiana Corps Officer.

“We are here to serve.”

The Shreveport Corps also set out to find homeless people on the streets and coaxed them to come inside by offering hand warmers and hot chocolate.

Many regular shelters were full since COVID-19 restrictions cut their occupancy in half, so Corps turned to placing cots on whatever floor space they could find — socially distanced six feet apart.

“If anyone needed shelter from the weather, they could take refuge with us. We are here to serve,” stated Captain Wendy Deuel, Florence, Alabama Corps Officer.

“We’re moving stuff around. If there’s any space that we can safely put someone, we’re going to find it. If that means moving furniture around so that we can lay down another cot, that’s what we’re doing. We’ve had to repurpose a room just so that we can make that into a place where people can stay,” Lt. Ellis added.

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Click here for more information on how The Salvation Army is helping your community.

 

 

Home Foreclosure Leads Mother and Daughter to The Salvation Army

Jacquela and her daughter became homeless at the beginning of 2020 after a home foreclosure. She turned to live with a church member but could not continue those arrangements after a month, so she had to find a new temporary home. She was referred to The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama Area Command’s Family Haven Emergency Shelter and immediately moved in. A month later, the pandemic hit, and she lost her job. The Salvation Army continued to encourage her through months of interviews and bouts of depression. Her stay at the shelter was extended due to the pandemic, and her social workers continued to provide hope and resources. Jacquela also had outstanding utilities that she needed to pay off before moving forward with the housing process to ensure she didn’t end up in a similar situation after finding a new home, so the additional time helped her catch up with financial planning. Although thankful for The Salvation Army, Jacquela found herself ashamed of her living conditions.

“Staying in a shelter was embarrassing and shameful to me. At one point, I was looking for extended stay places, but things like that would have put me in a worse situation because I’d constantly spend money on top of money,” Jacquela shared.

“My family still doesn’t know I’ve gone through this. Whenever I would face time, I’d make sure my background was discreet so no one would know,” she added.

Her daughter was in a car accident that totaled their only form of transportation, so Jacquela had to use the money she was saving to replace the vehicle. Her caseworker was understanding and extended her stay even more. Jacquela eventually found employment again as a family engagement coordinator for a nonprofit organization and began saving for a new home.

“They saw that I was trying to do the right thing. The Salvation Army was there as a support system. They gave me time to do what I needed to do and didn’t just kick me out because my three months were up,” Jacquela shared.

“My biggest dilemma was finding housing because I wasn’t able to do the traditional thing of finding an apartment because I was under bankruptcy, so whenever a landlord would look at me on paper, I was financially destitute. I wasn’t able to rent normally, so I was forced to try to find an individual landlord to try to work with them. The same situations I try to help families out of with my job, I now found myself in,” Jacquela added.

A Salvation Army employee learned of her troubles finding housing and connected Jacquela with an individual landlord who had properties. She met with the landlord and explained her situation, and they were willing to give her a chance. Jacquela moved into her new home in June 2020. The Salvation Army helped with the first month’s rent to allow time for Jacquela to get ahead with her other finances.

One of the hardest parts of living in the shelter was watching her daughter deal with high school senior year stressors during a pandemic, without the comfort of permanent housing. The entire situation was difficult for Jacquela’s daughter; All senior year celebrations were canceled, including prom, and on top of the stressors of not having her own home, she had to prepare for college. Thankfully, Jacquela was able to plan a graduation party at the shelter to create some type of normalcy for her daughter.

Forming tears, Jacquela shared, “When I lost my house in foreclosure, I lost everything. Not just my house. We literally only had some suitcases. We were vacating the house, but someone broke into our home while we were moving out. We basically left our home with the clothes that we could put in one or two bins. When we left the shelter, we had to start completely over. We lived here for about two months without furniture. We had nothing six months ago. My daughter has been a trooper with me. We go in and are making our house a home—just part of my testimony.

“It is only by God’s grace and mercy. Anything that anyone did is because he put His hands on it, and I believe that He did open doors for us and continues to open doors for us. That is how we survived. I’m thankful.

Jacquela in her new home.

I want people who may be in the same situation that I was in to know that it is nothing to be ashamed of. I thank God for the fact that I was able to live in the shelter and save money.”

Columbus, Mississippi Corps Helping Neighbors In Need Throughout 2020’s Disasters

The Salvation Army of Columbus has provided utility and food assistance throughout their community amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Many families have leaned on the Army for assistance during this time due to job loss and health issues leading to unexpected financial responsibilities. Here are just a few of the many testimonials of Columbus residents.

A family of four visited the Social Services office for assistance with their electric bill. The father, the sole provider for the family, had just received a text message from his employer stating that his services were no longer needed.  He’d held this position for four years and didn’t receive an explanation for losing his job.  His unemployment application had been on hold for months due to the pandemic, leaving him and his family in dire need of financial assistance. The Salvation Army was able to fully pay the families’ utility bill through the CARES Act. Food from the pantry and diapers that were donated via the Walmart Salvation Army Registry were also provided.

 

A mother of two contacted the Columbus Corps concerning her need for utility assistance. She worked full time for a factory and was laid off amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  She’d never asked for assistance prior to the pandemic and hadn’t anticipated needing it.  She’d been relying on her weekly $235.00 unemployment check for a while, barely getting by. When the government increased the allowance to $600 she thought things would turn around for her family, but she quickly lost control of her expenses after that allowance was reduced again. Between household upkeep, bills, and food she just could not keep up. The Salvation Army was able to provide groceries for the family as well as cover their utility bills through assistance from the CARES Act.

 

An elderly woman visited the Columbus Corps Social Services office for assistance with her electric bill.  She’d recently moved into a new apartment and could not afford the rent due to her fixed income. She’d originally planned to split rent payments with her daughter but was abandoned with the burden when her daughter made arrangements to get a place of her own. She only receives $613.00 per month in Social Security and the rent is $400. She had nowhere else to go. This apartment was the cheapest she could find in her area.  The Salvation Army was able to assist with her utility bills with funds provided by The Emergency Food and Shelter Program and provided her with food from the pantry.

 

For more information on how The Salvation Army is assisting the Columbus, Mississippi Community, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/columbus/.

 

 

 

Birmingham Woman Left At Salvation Army As An Infant Returns As Adult to Escape Domestic Violence

Dominique and her three children came to The Salvation Army Birmingham Area Command in 2018 to seek refuge from a verbally and physically abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend. Because she had witnessed her mother being killed by her stepfather early in life, Dominique knew she had to do something to prevent repeating the cycle. Determined to keep her kids safe, she formed a plan to start a new life.

“Believe it or not, some of the best sleep I’ve ever had was at The Salvation Army. I had peace.”

Dominique and her children were living with her father, stepmother, and sister when an altercation occurred between herself and her youngest son’s father. When presented with the chance to leave, she took it. Dominique found out about the women’s Center of Hope shelter at the Salvation Army in Birmingham. She and her children moved in and began preparing for their new lifestyles.

“Being in a shelter was different. My kids didn’t know what to expect; I didn’t know what to expect,” Dominique stated. “Believe it or not, some of the best sleep I’ve ever had was at The Salvation Army. I had peace,” she added.

Dominique stayed at the Center of Hope for four months before finding permanent housing. During that time, she joined The Salvation Army’s Education and Workplace Development program. The program helps individuals sustain employment through job readiness as well as life and educational training.

“My teacher was constructive. She had us write down our goals. My goal was to go back to school for real estate, and that’s what I did. I had help along the way, and whatever I asked for to better myself, The Salvation Army helped me. They offered assistance with school, my children, and extracurricular,” Dominique shared.

“It took me longer to finish the program because of being in and out of court concerning my domestic abuse case, but my counselors were patient and encouraged me. Kudos to my caseworkers. They tag teamed and helped me get everything I needed with going back to school. They were there for me all the way,” Dominique added.

“To come back with my kids I was like, ‘Wait a minute.’ It’s crazy how things circle back around.”

Headshot of Dominique

Dominique was able to realize her dream and obtain her Real Estate license in 2020. However, as soon as she began to build her client base to start a new career, the COVID-19 pandemic put everything on hold. Even with two jobs, she struggled to pay her rent. Thankfully, she was eligible for The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 financial assistance program, which has helped pay her rent and utilities throughout the pandemic.

“It’s been a big adjustment, being a mother of three during the pandemic. My middle son started having more behavioral problems, and we’ve been going to the doctor and therapy all year. He was diagnosed with ADHD, and learning this during the pandemic is tough,” Dominique shared.

Having to turn to The Salvation Army for assistance again, Dominique reflected on previous times when The Salvation Army helped her. Staying at the Center of Hope in 2018 wasn’t her first encounter with the Army. Her mother abandoned her at The Salvation Army when she was an infant. Dominique was entered into the foster care system where her grandfather was able to locate and adopt her.

“To come back with my kids I was like, ‘Wait a minute.’ It’s crazy how things circle back around,” Dominique stated.

“I just want to give God full credit because He’s the one who did everything for me and turned my whole life around. I didn’t do anything. There’s nobody but God who has brought me through this,” Dominique added.

Louisiana Grandmother and Her Three Grandchildren Sleeping In Graveyard Turn to Salvation Army

The Salvation Army of Shreveport has provided a second chance for a homeless woman and her three granddaughters. They turned to live in a graveyard when faced with homelessness at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. They now live at The Salvation Army Merkle Center of Hope, where they’ve celebrated Christmas and are being assisted in building a safe, independent lifestyle.

Twyla was living in Arizona when her daughters contacted her, saying that they could no longer care for their children and wanted her to take custody. She quickly made arrangements to move to Shreveport, Louisiana, to care for her three grandchildren.

“Their mamas weren’t acting right. They told me I better come get them, or they’re gonna just walk out,” Twyla shared.

Twyla immediately filed for full custody of her three grandchildren, ages nine, eight, and five, when she arrived in Shreveport. She was told that she could stay in one of her daughter’s homes to care for the children, and her daughter would move in with a boyfriend. After getting settled, Twyla’s daughter changed her mind and stated that she and the boyfriend would be living in the house, so Twyla and the children would have to find elsewhere to live.

The family ended up sleeping in the woods and abandoned houses, but Twyla couldn’t find comfort in those situations.

“I have no family here [ in Shreveport] except two daughters who are only about drugs and thugs. We had no place to go, so I started thinking about the safest places for us to live,” Twyla shared.

“I thought to stay in a graveyard because we’d slept in abandoned houses with no windows, mostly in bad areas. I didn’t get any rest. I’d sit up because I was scared. One time we slept in the woods, and it was the same thing because there are so many drug addicts and alcoholics out here roaming all night, hunting people to prey on. I knew this graveyard was over here, and I thought, ‘You know, most people are scared to walk through a graveyard at nighttime.’ That’s where we went, and that’s where we felt the safest. We never saw anybody except the groundskeeper and we didn’t let him know we were staying there. We left in the daytime with our backpacks and came back at night. Most of the time, we’d go to the gas station across the street and just sit on the curb at the side of the building,” Twyla added.

Twyla used her food stamps and to grab food from the gas station. She added herself to the waiting list for a suite for her and the girls at The Salvation Army. When she received the call that there was a vacancy, she immediately headed over to secure her space.

“It was hard, but my grandbabies are my life. I have to speak for them. I don’t want my babies in the system. Once they get in the system, it’s hard to get them back. I live for them. I’m going to take care of them until I have my last breath. Regardless of what I have to do,” Twyla stated.

Twyla and her grandchildren have been living in transitional housing since March 2019. She’s working with Hope Connection to set up permanent housing. Everything is in place but moving slowly since COVID-19 cases are increasing.

“As long as my babies have a warm bed and aren’t relying on gas station food, I have all of the time in the world to wait. We do not lack anything here,” Twyla stated.

“If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army, I really couldn’t tell you where we’d be. This place has really blessed us. This place is a blessing. People need to keep doing what they’re doing. Keep donating. If you’ve never been homeless or walked in my shoes, then you don’t really know what it’s about,” Twyla added.

Mobile Mother and Newborn Living In Car Find Hope With The Salvation Army

Ms. J and her seven-month-old baby came to The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama’s Family Haven after spending a week sleeping in her car. Although she had been homeless on one other occasion as a child, she was reluctant to be living in a shelter. She and her infant son were newly homeless and were not aware of the social services available in the community. Ms. J was relieved after visiting the Family Haven, and she gladly moved into the shelter.

In addition to homelessness, Ms. J had many needs. Her vehicle was undependable and uninsured, she and her son were battling numerous chronic health issues, and she had no earned income and was in debt, including delinquent gas and electric bills, which would become extreme barriers to future housing options. Ms. J was diligent about developing and implementing a savings plan based on her TANF allotment until she could find gainful employment.

The Family Haven connected Ms. J with Housing First and helped her complete applications for several privately owned homes and income-based apartments. At first, it was a frustrating process. Many properties had an extensive waiting list. Ms. J continued her stay at the Family Haven past the standard three months. Although her physician recommended that she not work and apply for disability, Ms. J was determined to become self-sufficient and care for her family. Finally, she was able to secure employment and stable childcare.

Ms. J was accepted at one of the housing complexes of her choice but could not sign her lease until her delinquent utilities were paid and established in her name. Fortunately, The Salvation Army was able to assist her with the outstanding bill. After four months of staying at the Family Haven, Ms. J and her child moved into permanent housing with a subsidy.

Ms. J used her time at the Family Haven wisely by applying for housing, saving money, and finding ways to eliminate her debt. Her diligence made her a perfect candidate for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope initiative. Since participating in this program, Ms. J has gained more stable employment, established mainstream banking, and purchased a new vehicle. The program will follow Ms. J for the next two years helping her to eradicate generational poverty.

A Christmas Miracle: Homeless Woman’s Life Turned Around in 24 Hours

The Salvation Army of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Command Officers, Majors Bradley and Anita Caldwell, watched shelter one night. Only one woman came to stay at the shelter that night. She settled in and got to sleep, and the next morning she came to Major Anita Caldwell for a coat. It was frigid out, and she did not have one. On top of a pile of black bags filled with donations sat one coat. The coat was the only item that wasn’t bagged, and it fit her perfectly.

“It was just for her. I loved that. It was like a miracle,” Major Anita Caldwell explained.

The woman left the building with her new coat and all of her belongings and sat on the sidewalk because she had nowhere else to go. It was obvious that she had mental health concerns of some kind because she began talking to people around her and called for a dog or child to follow her, although there was no one around. The Officers had a scheduled food distribution first thing that morning and did not feel comfortable leaving the woman alone on the sidewalk. Concerned for her safety, Majors Caldwell contacted the Open Doors Homeless Coalition. By 3:00 PM that afternoon, the woman was in her own room in her own apartment, and the Open Doors Homeless Coalition had ordered a bed for her.

A Salvation Army social worker transported the woman to her new apartment, and Major Anita Caldwell made arrangements for the power to be turned on. The more incredible blessing in this story of miracles is that the woman was connected with the CHOICE Program to receive assistance for a year. The CHOICE Program works collaboratively with the Mississippi Department of Health, Mississippi’s Community Mental Health Centers, and Mississippi Home Cooperation to provide intensive case management and temporary rental assistance to make housing affordable throughout Mississippi for individuals with serious mental illness.

“To me, that is my Christmas miracle. I just love that. I couldn’t have put those pieces together in 24 hours if I tried to,” Major Anita Caldwell shared.
“Any other day, no one would know about her, but now someone can knock on her door and check on her,” Major Anita Caldwell added.

To learn more about how The Salvation Army Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Command, visit https://salvationarmyalm.org/msgulfcoast/.

 

 

 

The Salvation Army Helping Neighbors In Need During COVID-19 Throughout Alabama

The Salvation Army has been there for our neighbors in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few memorable events from Alabama Corps.

 

Coastal, AL

Ms. Casey M., a single mother of two teenage girls, was working as an event planner at a local country club. Her hours were severely cut due to the pandemic, and she had difficulty getting unemployment benefits. She was unable to pay her rent and needed help until government assistance kicked in. The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama Area Command received funds from several local foundations for rent and utilities. The Salvation Army helped her with rent payments to keep current. She was so grateful that she reached out to her social worker and send an email saying, “Thank you so much for your help through all of this. This has been a dark time in my life, but you have been a shining ray of hope! Our community is blessed to have someone so devoted to its citizens and to our Lord!

Dothan, AL

The Salvation Army of Dothan received a call from a single working mother of three, requesting rental assistance. She explained that she was working the dayshift at the prison, which worked perfectly with her children’s school day and enabled her to not have childcare. Her hours were cut and changed to a 3 pm-12 am night shift when the pandemic began. She was forced to resign her position as she could not pay her bills or childcare with the reduced hours, and her new schedule would interfere with her children’s school schedule. A United Way Covid-19 grant was able to provide rental assistance for the mother. Her landlord had communicated with The Salvation Army that this was the first time she had ever had an issue paying rent or late notice.

Throughout the rental assistance process, this client was active in looking for employment. She has shared that the rental assistance she received through our program allowed her to keep her household together. She reports that she is currently employed, and the family is working hard to get back on their feet.

Florence, AL

While The Salvation Army of Florence was able to assist many individuals and families during the Covid-19 crisis, with many services ranging from financial assistance and food provision, one instance stands out above the rest. Thomas and Brenda, along with their 18-month-old daughter, all contracted the virus around the same time. As you can imagine, this has been very strenuous for the entire family as sickness had been intense, and the financial impact was significant. Amid their struggle, The Salvation Army provided them with daily meals through our Community Care Ministries and provided other personal and comfort items as they pressed through. The family is on the mend, and financial stability will be restored. The services provided daily free up their funds to be used for other financial needs.

Decatur, AL

Sarah Jones, a client in The Salvation Army of Decatur food pantry, has gone through a long and arduous journey over the past year. She and her husband had some severe addiction issues that needed to be addressed and treated. The Decatur Corps was able to advise them on some local treatment options in a community outpatient capacity. Their children were placed in foster care by the Department of Human Resources of Lawrence County and had a safety plan, which they needed to follow.

Throughout the process, Mr. & Mrs. Jones maintained a positive outlook through spiritual and medical guidance, leading them to become better parents and better people. The Salvation Army of Decatur ensured all their most basic human needs were met through the food and clothing assistance provided. Many clients that come into the food pantry for assistance are experiencing a short-term emergency need. However, there is an opportunity to provide guidance and direction to those who ask for help.

The Decaur Corps kept up with the ongoing treatment schedule and progress with Mr. & Mrs. Jones and liaised with the Department of Human Resources whenever information was requested. They completed their treatment program and satisfied all the requirements of the safety plan. Supervised visitation was the first step for them, but eventually, they regained custody of their children. The Salvation Army was able to assist them with food, clothing, household essentials, and assorted kitchen necessities for their new home, and their outlook on the future is significantly improved.

Montgomery, AL

During the COVID pandemic, when people were getting laid off from work, The Salvation Army of Montgomery helped one of our male residents establish a new career in inpatient care in a local senior living facility. Officers taught him about saving money and operating his life on a budget. The Montgomery Corps was able to partner with a couple of local agencies to get the client a fully furnished three-bedroom house and assist him with purchasing his own vehicle to cut back on transportation expenses. The client reports that he is still working on the job now and doing well.

The Salvation Army Helping Mississippians Throughout COVID-19

The Salvation Army has been there for our neighbors in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few highlights from Mississippi Corps.

Jackson

A disproportionate number of lower-income Mississippians have been impacted by COVID-19. The Salvation Army Jackson has canceled all community programs in their facilities, with the desire to keep their community safe and to follow CDC recommendations.  However, they are delivering boxes of food and supplies to the homes of 70 seniors who have come to rely on hot, nutritious meals at their facilities. The Corps social worker also checks in with the seniors on a regular basis and holds Sunday school via telephone a few times a month so that seniors are able to keep in touch with one another and maintain a sense of community with The Salvation Army.

Hattiesburg

No story sticks more than any other except serving the 425+ who came to The Salvation Army of Hattiesburg every Thursday this summer during for Food Distribution day. This day was made possible with the help of the Farmers to Families program and E&B Grocery in Hattiesburg. Through this program, clients received meat, vegetable, and dairy boxes from E&B Grocery.  Donations have included bags of potatoes, onions, milk, Lunchables, tortillas, bleach, and several other things. This program would not be possible without the help of the incredible Hattiesburg community partners.

Vicksburg

A client was laid off from work at the daycare because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The daycare closed and has not yet re-opened. The client looked for a new job for four months without any luck. In May, The Salvation Army of Vicksburg was able to help with her electric bill. In July, she returned for assistance with her water bill. Her water had been shut off for a few weeks, and she was making due. The Vicksburg Corps supplied her with drinking water and spoke with the water company about paying the bill. An agreement was made so that the water would be turned back on the very day the Salvation Army paid the bill. There was a delay in writing the check, and it wasn’t ready until Friday. Since we wanted her water turned on as soon as possible, the corps officer hand-delivered the water bill, so her water was turned on before the weekend.

Greenwood

A young lady with four children was just laid off from work and just had a house fire that took all she had. We gave her a clothing voucher so she could have clothes for herself and her children. The Salvation Army of Greenwood agreed to furnish her new home once ararngements were made. Since the Greenwood Corps doesn’t have a shelter, corps officers supplied the young woman with a week’s stay in a hotel and helped her make arrangements to stay in a nearby local shelter. We ended our time together with a word of prayer. We are hoping that she would be willing to participate in our pathway of hope program ministry.

Salvation Army Laurel Helps Families Through COVID-19, Bankruptcy, and Hard Times

The Salvation Army of Laurel’s Emergency Food Assistance program has dramatically increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bankruptcy, health conditions, and lack of government assistance left a Laurel, Mississippi family strapped for money and food during the pandemic. Grandparents have become caregivers so that parents can work during the pandemic, resulting in a need for more food to keep children fed. The family turned to The Salvation Army for assistance and received weekly food boxes to aid them during financial recovery.

“We have been able to do weekly distributions due to community support and local food assistance programs. The family has since shared how this food has kept them from going hungry and how The Salvation Army’s outreach to this family has encouraged them during a difficult time in their lives. This is why we exist; to help our neighbors in need,” shared Major Raymond Pruitt, Laurel Corps Officer.

Another family applied through the Angel Tree program and needed bedroom furniture for their children. Laurel Corps Officers informed the community of the need to help this family. A donor saw news coverage of the need and purchased beautiful new beds for the family right away. The Salvation Army delivery truck needed repair and was unable to deliver beds to the family, so the donor also donated an additional $600 to pay for our vehicle to get out of the shop. The Salvation Army delivered the new furniture to the family, thanks to this giving individual.

“Our neighbors help us just as much as we help them. It’s a community effort to make sure everyone is well taken care of. We are so appreciative of our donors, and we’re blessed and thankful to be here to serve the Laurel community,” Major Pruitt shared.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Helping Neighbors Amid COVID-19

The Salvation Army of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Command has been busy helping our neighbors in need throughout the pandemic, whether through rent and utility assistance, grocery delivery, or just being a listening ear. COVID-19 has made it difficult for some people to get their medication, particularly those dealing with mental illness. Dave contacted The Salvation Army, and officers noted that he was angry and unsettled. The Salvation Army contacted a service provider who went to Dave’s home and helped him get the medications he needed. Dave became calm quickly and reached out to The Salvation Army again to share how thankful he was for the help.

Another group of people who have had an even greater need during the pandemic is senior citizens. Many Biloxi seniors feared going outside of their homes, and relatives were afraid to visit them, so meal services to seniors during COVID-19 were especially welcomed. Hot meals were provided first to all who needed them as a grab and go lunch. After a few weeks, the corps moved to senior meal delivery for those who could not leave their homes. Seniors are being delivered meals twice a week in the Biloxi community. A happy face delivering food to their doorstep is always much appreciated.

Walker County Delivers with Senior Feeding Program

One of the most considerable impacts made by The Salvation Army Walker County Service Center is its Senior Feeding Program. The program started in 2019, and services have amplified due to COVID-19. Volunteers and staff deliver groceries to between 250-300 seniors every week, with a high of 400 one week. Groceries are taken to the homes of seniors who cannot grocery shop for themselves due to illness, lack of transportation, or lack of money. The program caters to those aged 60 and above, with $600 or less a month.

“When we do this, I’m cautious about what I purchase for those bags of groceries because these seniors have no transportation. They don’t have a family who is active in their lives, so they don’t have someone to take them to the store,” stated Cynthia Smith, Walker County Social Services Director.

“They’re at a high risk to complications from COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions or old age, so we try to pack complete meals. If we supply a box of hamburger helper, we’re also going to be sure to supply the meat and milk to go with it,” Smith added.

The Walker County Service Center also works with a produce truck that comes on Thursday mornings at 6 AM to collect produce boxes, which typically contain milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and onions. Grocery bags are packed according to the supplies received from produce boxes. Reusable face masks are also placed in the boxes every few months to replace old or torn masks. Personal hygiene products, toilet paper, and other cleaning supplies are also included in the delivery.

The service center also partners with the Walker County District Attorney’s Office for senior meal delivery for seniors under mandatory isolation and quarantine. The Salvation Army provides and packs the groceries, and police officers will deliver them to seniors who cannot leave their homes.

“If they need sugar, it’s in there. If they need flour, it’s in there. We make sure to pack whatever they may need,” Smith stated.

“When we take groceries, we knock on the door to let them know that we’ve delivered the groceries and step away. We know them so well now that sometimes we exchange air hugs or they’ll blow kisses. Sometimes they cry. One woman cried because it had been years since she’d last seen peanut butter,” Smith added.