Posts

Florence Corps Partners With City to Protect the Vulnerable During Covid-19

The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope is the only homeless shelter in Alabama’s Shoals area that has its own facility. Room at the Inn, the only other program in the area that provides shelter for the homeless, has temporarily postponed operations during the COVID-19 pandemic due to most of its volunteers being senior citizens, a high-risk population. This has resulted in numerous homeless individuals being left with nowhere to go, so the program organized for Veterans Memorial Park to be the designated location for the homeless to reside. A more permanent arrangement would be needed soon, so the City of Florence and the Homeless Care Council asked The Salvation Army to help.

Fortunately, twelve residents of the Army found permanent housing in March, creating space for incoming residents. The Salvation Army welcomed the homeless community from Veterans Memorial Park onto their property to give them a home during these uncertain times. Residents who may feel uncomfortable sleeping inside due to the virus have set up camp in the facility’s backyard. Those who choose to camp outside still have access to the facility’s amenities, such as laundry, showers, and meals. Portable toilets have also been installed for their convenience.

These circumstances have brought Florence together as a community. The city has provided portable toilets and picnic tables to assist with social distancing and the increase in residents. Area restaurants, businesses, and organizations have provided tents, tarps, blankets, toiletries, games, and food to assist with the new living arrangements. Hospital workers also came to the shelter to provide COVID-19 testing to all current and incoming residents to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We have a lot of land, so why not turn it into a home for someone who doesn’t have one? Now they have a place to go where they are welcomed and comfortable,” stated Shoals Corps Officer Captain Wendy Deuel.

“The residents are excited. Someone came to me and told me that they finally feel like they have a home, and that brought me so much joy. I’ve told residents that The Center of Hope brings new hope and a new beginning for them,” added Captain Deuel.

Living at The Salvation Army during this pandemic is a second chance for residents, many of whom hadn’t had showers in months before coming to the shelter. Residents attend daily rehabilitation and case management classes, where they are encouraged to discuss their lives and personal goals. Residents are also able to play sports and other games in small groups.

“The community has been a huge help. It has been a blessing to be able to work with other churches and organizations. We appreciate their help during this process,” stated Captain Deuel.


Financial donations are the best way to meet the evolving needs and to support relief efforts. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

The Salvation Army’s Response to Alabama’s Stay at Home Order

On Friday, April 3, 2020, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced an official Stay at Home order for the state of Alabama to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The order took effect on Saturday, April 4, and is in place until April 30. This mandate affects The Salvation Army throughout Alabama in many ways, most notably in shelter operations. The Salvation Army operates ten shelters throughout the state and all of them are now housing residents 24/7. Shelters that usually serve only breakfast and dinner are now serving three meals a day. This change to round-the-clock sheltering increases staffing needs as well as the need for more food and cleaning supplies. All Salvation Army shelters throughout the state are increasing daily cleaning and disinfecting measures throughout their facilities in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus and keep all shelter residents and staff safe and healthy. Alabama’s Stay at Home order is also resulting in the temporary closure of all Salvation Army thrift stores in the state, however, all Salvation Army locations are still providing social services.

Birmingham

The Salvation Army’s Birmingham Area Command has seen a tremendous increase in demand for emergency services including food and utility assistance requests since the onset of the pandemic. The Birmingham shelter has 111 men, women, and children currently in their care. They have identified apartments in the facility to use as quarantine or isolation if needed. The Birmingham Area Command currently has a week’s worth of food on hand for current residents and for their food pantry distribution. The need for food supplies has increased greatly as residents are now eating all three meals at the shelter. Additionally, snacks and drinks are provided throughout the day. Shelter residents are eating in shifts to allow for safe social distancing during meals. Hand washing/sanitizing is now required upon entry into the facility, at mealtimes, and before snacks.

The Birmingham Salvation Army reports that food assistance demand has increased by more than 300% since the onset of the pandemic. A drive-through food pantry is provided to the public twice weekly, and they are serving lunch to members of the community through a mobile canteen feeding truck on their Center of Hope campus.

To keep residents entertained, several activities a week are planned for the families in the shelter and residents are encouraged to spend time outdoors as long as they stay on campus and maintain social distancing.  As of Monday, April 6, the Birmingham Salvation Army is assisting students in the shelter with their e-learning requirements through the on-site computer lab.  Workforce development opportunities are also being offered to residents, with classes on job interviews, life skills, time management, and more.

“Our hope is to show our families the love of Jesus and that’s what we are trying to do every day,” said Major Paula Powell, Area Commander. “Showing our families we care about them and we love them makes all the difference.”

Florence

The Salvation Army of the Shoals in Florence, Alabama, is currently housing 19 residents. Cleaning has increased throughout the shelter due to its extended hours. There are no residents with COVID-19, but if a resident shows signs of the virus, they will be isolated in a separate living space and referred to the nearest hospital for proper screening.

On Friday, April 10, the Florence Corps will hold its third food giveaway since the onset of the pandemic. They have also partnered with local senior living facilities to deliver frozen chicken, prepared meals, and household goods, including toilet paper. The Army is also delivering meals to the YMCA, which is taking care of children of first responders, and distributing meals throughout the community to assist with feeding children who aren’t at the YMCA. Those meals are provided by the Florence School District.

“We have had to close down our family stores, which are a source of funding for all of our social service programs. This has put a strain on our budget, but we are continuing to serve the physical and monetary needs of our community who are affected by this pandemic. We need financial contributions to continue operating to the extent that our community needs,” stated Florence Corps Officer Captain Wendy Deuel.

Coastal Alabama

The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama is currently housing 91 residents throughout their 3 shelters, all of which are now operating 24/7. Cleaning has increased throughout the shelters due to the extended hours. There aren’t any residents with COVID-19, but if a resident shows signs of the virus they will be isolated in a separate living space and taken to the nearest hospital for proper screening.

COVID-19 has drastically increased The Salvation Army’s community feedings and other services in Mobile. The Army is now serving lunch three times a week in downtown Mobile—stepping up to fill the gap left after other area service organizations had to close during the pandemic. An average of 170 meals per day are being served at this location, with projections that this number will increase in the days ahead. The Mobile Police and Fire Departments have asked The Salvation Army to supply meals to public safety officials that are quarantined with suspicion of COVID-19 symptoms.

Church activities at the Worship Center and the Dauphin Way Lodge have been postponed. Group rehabilitation meetings have been divided into smaller groups and take place outside in the courtyard. Visitors are restricted from entering the building, and community meals are distributed outside. The food pantry has had to adjust the hours and methods of distributing food to mitigate unnecessary exposure to clients and staff.

“We will make it through this together not by doing what is comfortable, but by doing what is necessary,” stated Coastal Alabama Area Commander, Major Thomas Richmond.

Tuscaloosa

The Salvation Army of Tuscaloosa’s shelter, which has separate wings to accommodate men, women, families, and veterans, is currently near capacity. Round-the-clock sheltering means that The Salvation Army is now providing lunch, an additional meal, for its residents due to the mandate hours.

“We are extending our shelter to 24/7 operation because it is the only home our residents currently have, and we’re committed to keeping them safe and well provided for. We are also providing all of our normal essential services— including meals, food boxes, Rapid Rehousing, and Homeless Prevention—we’re just altering our methods of service delivery to practice safe social distancing,” stated Tuscaloosa Corps Officer, Major Bill Shafer.

 


The above is just a sampling, but all Salvation Army shelters throughout Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi are now operating 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Every one of these shelters is in immediate need of extra food and cleaning supplies to meet the increased demand, but their biggest need is financial. The Salvation Army needs a great outpouring of public support to continue to serve the increased need throughout our communities. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

Mobile Takes Canteen into the Community to Fill the Gap

The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama has created a new feeding program to assist at-risk community members who have been impacted by the coronavirus.  Other social service organizations have closed throughout the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Army is stepping up to serve residents who relied on those organizations.

The Salvation Army’s mobile feeding canteen began distributing water and bagged lunches in downtown Mobile at the Square at Dauphin Street and Park Street this week. The Army was able to provide a meal and prayer for 170 members of the community. The canteen will provide meals at this location every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

“Many people came to our canteen and told us that they thought they had been forgotten during this crisis. We assured them that we had not forgotten them, but more importantly, God had not forgotten them. The Salvation Army has served the needs of people in Mobile and Baldwin Counties since 1887 and will continue to be here with God’s help,” stated Coastal Alabama Area Commander, Major Thomas Richmond.

This new community feeding program is in addition to services already provided by The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama, including supplied food, shelter and social services at the three shelter locations—the Family Haven family shelter, the Red Shield Lodge emergency homeless shelter, and the Dauphin Way Lodge drug & alcohol rehabilitation center, as well as financial assistance and an array of other services through their social services office.

To help The Salvation Army continue to serve those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, make your secure online donation today.

Feeding Kids In Anniston During COVID-19 School Closures

The Salvation Army of Anniston has collaborated with Anniston City Schools, The Boys and Girls Club, local community centers, and local churches to feed children throughout the community while schools are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Breakfast and lunch were provided throughout the Anniston community Wednesday, March 18th through Friday, March 20th, and services will resume after spring break, starting Monday, March 30th through Friday, April 3rd, from 10 am -12 pm.

Russell family and Lt. Graham “It’s been beneficial having The Salvation Army out in the community, providing food and snacks for my babies. Lieutenant Jennifer Graham visited my home. We sat and talked,” stated Monique Russell, Anniston mother of six.

The Salvation Army will meet at Anniston Middle School at 7:30 am each day to pack grab-n-go style breakfast and lunch to take into the community and distribute to kids. Volunteers are needed to assist with packing meals beginning March 30th.

“It has been a life-changing experience in preparing for what we are now calling a pandemic. Even in these moments, we all need to slow down and take care of one another. Taking care of children is one of the many priorities of The Salvation Army, so we are happy to be involved with the Anniston community,” stated Lieutenant Jennifer Graham, The Salvation Army of Anniston Corps Officer.

Any child K-12 may receive a free pre-packaged breakfast and lunch. No proof of residence is required, so any child from anywhere may participate. An adult or older sibling may pick up breakfast and lunch, but one child must be present.

Doing The Most Good With Melanie Cook

We can all do the most good in our everyday lives, whether it be helping an older neighbor with their yard work, recycling, or paying for coffee for the next person in line. There’s always a way to show God’s grace through your day-to-day deeds, but for some, doing the most good is their calling.

“It wasn’t my idea. It was His. The Lord has led me here,” is Melanie Cook’s response to dedicating so much of her time and energy to helping those in need.

Cook is a fulltime volunteer at The Salvation Army in Florence, Alabama, where she organizes the food pantry, cooks, and serves meals to residents. She’s also responsible for bringing in her fellow members of Highland Baptist Church to join in volunteer efforts at The Salvation Army.

The Lord Spoke To Me

Cook says the Lord spoke to her about being more involved in charity work through her Bible readings. She wasn’t sure how to get started and began working with a local ministry that prepared weekly meals for the homeless. She met a couple in that ministry who introduced her to The Salvation Army. Cook saw how in need the shelter was and recruited other members from her church to assist. Word spread, and volunteering at The Salvation Army is now a church-wide service at Highland Baptist Church.

When asked to share her experience working with Cook, Christine Onocki, The Salvation Army Florence Corps Volunteer Coordinator, said, “My words are not adequate to express the gratitude in my heart for Melanie’s volunteer participation with us. She has such a beautiful spirit. She recognizes a need and jumps into action, organizing groups to fill the need or fill in the gaps. We are blessed to have her and her fellow church members. The phrase “With a heart for God and a hand to man” would describe this wonderful woman. We are very thankful.”

Fulfilling A Calling

Among all the other good they do, Cook’s ministry took it upon themselves to assist when the shelter was in desperate need of new bedding. The shelter received a large donation of bedspreads from one of the local hotels. Though the offer was generous and appreciated, most of the comforters were queen and king-sized, much too large for the twin-sized beds that most shelters provide. Shelters wash their bedding frequently, and the large size of the donated bedding would cause wear and tear on the machines, so Cook and three other women from her church decided to use their sewing skills to cut and hem the material, making two covers out of one. This act was much appreciated and helped make the bedding supplies at the shelter more efficient and easier to handle for both staff and residents.

In addition to loving what she does, Cook enjoys interacting with the people she serves. To Cook, volunteering isn’t just about the service provided. It’s also about making personal connections and showing people who may not currently have a source of companionship that there are people who care about them. She has found that volunteering sometimes works as a personal kind of witnessing ministry. People share their feelings and thoughts with her, which allows her to share their stories and assist others with making much needed societal changes.

“I don’t know if volunteers from my church have the same calling, but knowing the Lord gave me this duty leaves me with a strong sense of satisfaction each day,” Cook declared. “It’s a blessing to be able to talk to people and let them know that I’m just like them. We have different problems, but we all have problems. I can share with them how the Lord has worked in my life and encourage them that He can do the same for them. I remind them that this is just a temporary situation and that He’s there for them,” Cook added.

Volunteering Will Change Your Perspective

People have approached Cook on the street, asking for food and money. She informs them that they never have to go hungry because The Salvation Army serves meals every day. She also wants people in shelters to know that she doesn’t feel like they are different from her. She wants to offer encouragement about God and overcoming hardships, so she often sits and prays with people concerning finding a job, a place to live, and reuniting with their families.

“Homelessness has separated so many families. We don’t always get a happy ending with those, but sometimes we do. I try to share those happy endings with my Sunday school class. You know, ‘So-and-so moved out of The Salvation Army and into their apartment this week.’ or “So-and-so whose child was taken away by DHR is getting their baby back.’ The Salvation Army has played such a massive part in people’s lives,” Cook said.

Cook would like to see more people get involved. She often encounters lonely people at the shelter who feel that their lives have little meaning. She believes that if more people would share their time by volunteering at The Salvation Army, their perspectives on life will change, and they’ll realize they are more abundant and more blessed than they think.

Cook emphasizes the importance of sharing your time with others by adding, “Volunteering and witnessing these miracles has given me a boldness to share my faith. God is so good to us, and there’s a lot that we can do to change the world. One person at a time. Volunteer.”

Contact your local Salvation Army to learn how you can contribute.

Transition to Long-Term Recovery After Alabama Tornado Outbreak

Annabelle Tsui

Lee County, Alabama (March 25, 2019)— The Salvation Army’s emergency response to the Lee County tornado outbreak of March 3, 2019, has transitioned to the long-term recovery phase. After serving from day one of the tornado outbreak—providing food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care to tornado survivors, first responders, and volunteers—The Salvation Army is continuing to serve affected residents through partnerships with local emergency management and the Lee County Long-Term Coalition.

The Coalition meets to identify unmet needs and determine how the resources of volunteer agencies can be best utilized to meet the continued or on-going needs of the affected communities. Thus far, The Salvation Army has participated and contributed to the recovery by ensuring that survivors have food, household goods and hygiene items.  “In partnership with other community organizations, we will continue receiving tornado survivors to address their needs,” said Annabelle Tsui, Salvation Army Lee County Service Center Director. “It is truly blessing to witness wounded hearts and communities being mended through the volunteer efforts of The Salvation Army and many other partner organizations,” she continued.

To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.

President Trump Visits Tornado Ravaged Lee County & The Salvation Army Continues to Serve

Beauregard, AL (March 8, 2019)— President Trump toured the tornado ravaged Beauregard community on Friday, and The Salvation Army was on hand, ready to serve survivors, volunteers, and work crews. The level of security required for a presidential visit meant that the highly secured disaster area was locked down tight until the president concluded his visit, but The Salvation Army was on the scene—ready and eager to get back into the area and back to helping the people.

As soon as the area was cleared for those granted access there, which still isn’t open to the general public, The Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) was in high gear, grilling hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken for the people doing the massive ongoing cleanup effort. “Some of the people that we served said that it was just what they needed. That it was a godsend because God knows exactly what to send at the right time. We were there to fill that need,” said Lieutenant Bryan Farrington, who was working at the canteen as soon as people were allowed back into the area.

“I think it’s wonderful because I thought I was about to starve to death,” said Eric Bush, who took a break to eat a burger from the canteen. Eric is volunteering to help a friend, using his tractor to remove limbs from what’s left of his friend’s home. “It is awesome to see the presence of The Salvation Army helping feed people, and everybody just here to work, to try to pitch in and make a difference. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing—if you’re cooking hamburgers or moving limbs or picking up trash—it takes everybody,” Eric added.

As the weekend approaches, with Sunday marking one week since lives in this community were changed forever, emotional and spiritual care was again the greatest need. “It was good to be able to love on the people who were most affected by the storm and to hear their stories. To be able to share God’s love, to help them smile for a minute, to relieve some of the stress and strain. Words can’t describe what you actually see there, but it’s very rewarding to have an impact, to brighten their day for a moment and encourage somebody while they’re going through the midst of their trials,” said Lt. Farrington.

“This may seem impossible, but through faith it is possible. Through faith all things are possible,” said Napoleon Darby, resident of the hardest-hit area of Lee County. Napoleon’s home is destroyed. His is a tight-knit community with mostly family members as neighbors, and some members of his family didn’t survive the storm. There‘s a distinct heaviness in the air, and you can hear the deep pain in his quiet voice, but he refuses to let himself sink into despair. He’s choosing to focus on the good. Napoleon met President Trump on his tour of the area Friday, and it left a positive impression on him. “I shook his hand and talked to him, shook his wife’s hand,” Napoleon said.

Of his visit with Salvation Army officers on the same day he met the president, Napoleon says, “This is a testament that there are lots of nice people that care about people in the world. It’s easy to concentrate on the hate in the world but when you get exposed to the love in the world you have to lean more towards that.”

Emotional & Spiritual Care Essential Aspect of Tornado Response in Beauregard, AL

Beauregard, AL (March 8, 2019)— An exhaustive search and rescue effort after Sunday’s deadly EF-4 tornado that caused a reported 23 fatalities in Lee County ended on Wednesday, March 4, 2019, and homeowners and volunteer/relief agencies were finally allowed into the hardest-hit area of Beauregard. The Salvation Army is serving meals and providing emotional and spiritual care in Beauregard as crews are diligently working on the massive cleanup effort and homeowners are scouring the wreckage for anything they can save. With total devastation as far as the eye can see, emotions are raw and the emotional and spiritual care component of The Salvation Army’s service fills a great need. “I couldn’t ask for a more awesome person to come sit with us and pray with us yesterday, that meant the world to us, and there are no words,” said Janet Baugh, a Beauregard resident who found comfort and encouragement in a visit from Major Bradley Caldwell on Wednesday. Major Caldwell made sure to stop by again on Thursday to check on Janet and make sure she was doing well. Despite the hardships, she seemed to be filled with hope and a sense of purpose and determination to make it through this difficult time.

Lieutenant Bryan Farrington paused his duties at the canteen (mobile feeding unit) to pray with Shanikia Buchannon, a Beauregard resident whose joy about her upcoming wedding is now laced with concern for her friends and neighbors. “I just thank God that my family was safe, but my heart is hurting for my friends. I have two close friends, even one of my friends who is in my wedding, she lost everything. And the other one lost everything plus a child, so I can only imagine what they’re going through,” Shanikia said. “For Salvation Army to pray for me, it really means a lot. I’m a praying woman and I know prayer changes things,” Shanikia added.

The Salvation Army will continue to serve in Beauregard again today—providing physical refreshment through serving meals and drinks, and emotional and spiritual nourishment by lending a compassionate ear to listen, shoulder to cry on, or sincere prayer for anyone in need. To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,995 meals, 1,439 drinks, 1,573 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 146 individuals in response to the devastaing Lee County tornado.

To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.

Serving Lee County Volunteers

Smiths Station, AL (March 7, 2019)— The Salvation Army continues to be a light of help and hope for those affected by the recent devastating Southeast Alabama tornadoes. On Wednesday, March 6, that help took the form of setting up a canteen (mobile feeding unit) at the Lee County Emergency Management Agency’s Volunteer Reception Center that has been established at Smiths Station Baptist Church. Those wishing to volunteer with the county can drop into the center, receive training and an assignment, and head out to do their volunteer work. The Salvation Army is on hand to provide meals, beverages and snacks to those volunteers, and in many cases, to the people the volunteers are heading out to serve.

“I’m just very grateful the tornado hit half a mile from my home in two different directions. It went over my house. I’m very grateful to the Lord that I didn’t get hurt, and I just want to help those that are,” said Yvette Greene, a county volunteer who loaded up her car with meals from The Salvation Army canteen to share with those already in the field. Another volunteer, Tricia Harm, mother of seven, brought four of her children who are old enough to volunteer to the center on Wednesday, to serve those hurting in their community. Tricia and her teenage children came to The Salvation Army canteen for lunch before heading out to their volunteer assignment. “We are volunteering to help clean up, because it’s our town. We’re a military family, but it’s our town. The kids wanted to help and this is what we can do, so this is what we’ll do,” said Tricia.

The Salvation Army is proud to provide for tornado survivors and those who are volunteering to serve their hurting neighbors. To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,495 meals, 619 drinks, 1,143 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 71 individuals. To donate to tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.

Serving Smiths Station Tornado Survivors

Smiths Station, AL (March 6, 2019)— The Salvation Army is serving the Smiths Station community today, where cleanup efforts are well underway in this area that suffered major damage from Sunday’s tornado outbreak. Serving meals, drinks, and snacks from a fixed location at Smiths Station Baptist Church, The Salvation Army will also be offering much needed emotional and spiritual care to tornado survivors.

A Salvation Army mobile feeding unit will also roam the surrounding area, providing similar services. “Today, The Salvation Army’s mission is to provide relief to those who are suffering because of this horrific event in a manner which provides hope for the tomorrows,” said Major Bradley Caldwell, Salvation Army Emotional & Spiritual Care Officer.

To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,050 meals, 670 snacks, 450 drinks, 20 personal hygiene kits, 25 backpacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 22 individuals in response to the deadly tornado that struck Lee County, AL on Sunday, March 3, 2019. To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.

Incident Command Team Reporting to Opelika, AL for Tornado Recovery

Opelika, AL (March 4, 2019)— After the historic and devastating tornado outbreak that occurred in the Southeast on Sunday, March 3, 2019, The Salvation Army is responding by sending a full Incident Command Team to Opelika, AL. Hardest hit by the outbreak was the mostly rural area of Lee County. Major William Shafer from The Salvation Army Tuscaloosa Corps will arrive today to serve as the Incident Commander. He will be supported by a six member team of Salvation Army representatives from Anniston, Birmingham, Montgomery and Jackson, Mississippi.

In the immediate hours following the storm, The Salvation Army Lee County Service Center provided 200 meals to first responders. Lieutenants Bryan and Tonya Farrington from The Salvation Army Montgomery Corps also deployed to the area Sunday evening with their mobile feeding unit to assist the local Service Extension Center Director. Service delivery will continue throughout Lee County today and include the distribution of hot meals, snacks, and beverages served from six mobile feeding units. Other than Montgomery, the mobile feeding units are deploying into the area from Anniston, Birmingham, and Biloxi, Mississippi.

In addition to tending to the physical needs of those affected, The Salvation Army is providing emotional and spiritual care, which is expected to be a significant need in the wake of this especially cruel and deadly disaster. The National Weather Service reports that  more tornado deaths occurred from this one outbreak than in all of 2018. Please keep the tornado survivors as well as first responders in your prayers. Donations to the tornado relief can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org.

A Drop In The Bucket

Where does your dollar go? For over 120 years The Salvation Army has had bell ringers outside during the Christmas season, collecting donations in our iconic red kettles. During this season it’s not hard to imagine a hungry child or struggling family receiving food and shelter thanks to the community’s support. But that’s not where it ends. Read on to learn how one small town in Alabama benefits from the community’s support of The Salvation Army.

 

No Place To Call Home

Homelessness is a hard life, and it touches communities big and small. Even in a small town like Gadsden, Alabama, there are those who have no place to call home. And it is the community that is helping them, though their donations to The Salvation Army. “We’re lodging an average of 10-15 (people) a night. Getting them off the street,” says Captain Dennis Hayes, the Gadsden Salvation Army Corps Officer. Those needs are often more acute at Christmas, but they do not end after December. Thankfully, the red kettle donations help to fund the work of The Salvation Army year-round. “We average around 45-50 people a year, helping them get out of homelessness,” Captain Hayes says.

 

Needs Beyond Homelessness

Those in need are not always homeless. Holiday meals can stretch an already thin budget, and those struggling to make a living often find themselves without enough money for food. Attending to the needs of the community remains a year-round mission for The Salvation Army. “We feed several thousand people year. Not all of them are homeless but they are low income and the money just doesn’t go far enough for food,” says Captain Hayes.

And hot meals are not the only way to serve. Recently, the Gadsden Corps began a program that can help people continue to make meals in their own homes. “We just now started our senior food program. They come in once a month to pick up a prepackaged box of food,” says Vermelle Bonfanti, Social Service Case Worker for The Salvation Army of Gadsden.

 

Project SHARE

But again, food is not the only need. The community helps keep the lights on for those in need with Project SHARE, which is funded by Alabama Power customers who donate through their monthly electric bills. “On your bill, when you pay your bill it asks, ‘would you like to donate to the SHARE program’ and that’s where that money comes from,” says Bonfanti. These funds allow The Salvation Army to directly aid those in need. “We gave out $8,000 worth of money this year to people who needed help with their power bills as well as gas,” says Bonfanti.

 

Help All Year Long

The money that’s placed in the red kettle is only one avenue for giving, but those resources are part of The Salvation Army’s mission to do the most good in the communities we serve all year long. Donations to our kettles help provide meals, supplemented with donations of food. They help provide services, supplemented by the aid of volunteers. “On top of that, we also give spiritual and emotional care,” says Captain Hayes, “if we can’t do anything but listen we try to do that. We’re there to help them, so that‘s a part of what we do for the community, we try to make it a better place to live.”

You can help by donating to our kettles in person, and now you can also give to our online red kettle here: Online Red Kettle