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Columbus Tornado Relief All About Community

Columbus, MS (February 28, 2019)— Immediately after an EF-3 tornado struck the small town of Columbus—known as “The Friendly City”—  on Saturday, February 23, 2019, The Salvation Army has been serving and partnering with community groups and businesses to bring as much help as possible to those in need. The Community Benefit Committee, a local volunteer group made up of community leaders in Columbus, approached The Salvation Army early on about working together and a fruitful relationship was born. “The Salvation Army’s values are so close to ours, so who better to work with,” said Rhonda Sanders, Columbus police officer and one of the chief coordinators of The Community Benefit Committee.

Columbus Salvation Army Corps Officer, Lt. Christian Smith, says the partnership has been a blessed experience all around. “We recognize the needs for the community will be ongoing and are grateful for all partnerships and the donations which have been provided thus far. It is heartwarming to see how everyone has come together to serve those who have been affected. It’s pretty much like providing a big group hug,” said Lt. Smith.

To date, The Salvation Army has distributed the following tornado relief items to the Columbus community: 2,480 meals, 2,020 drinks, 820 snacks, 400 comfort/hygiene kits, 160 tarps, 100 blankets, and 200 pillows. To donate to The Salvation Army’s relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org .

Columbus Tornado: Serving After The Storm

 

tornado damage house in Columbus, MS

Columbus, MS (February 24, 2019)— The Salvation Army of Columbus, Mississippi distributed water and snacks to emergency responders after a tornado ripped through the town around 5:00 pm Saturday evening. “We gave them enough for their crews and an emergency shelter they were setting up,” said Lt. Christian Smith, Columbus Salvation Army Corps Officer. The snacks and water provided was enough for about 120 people. The storm caused one confirmed fatality and significant damage to the downtown area.

The Salvation Army is continuing to monitor the situation and preparing to respond further as needs are assessed. Bill Feist, Divisional Disaster Liaison for The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division, has a seat representing The Salvation Army at the State Emergency Operations Center in Pearl to learn the extent of the damage and how The Salvation Army can provide further assistance.

Donations to the relief effort can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org .

Columbus, Mississippi, Program is Challenging Young Adults to Dream Big

by Jon Kalahar

Rene Hill, In This Together program participant


Raising a child on your own is hard enough. Imagine you’re 20 years old. Sometimes you need a little motivation or, in Rene Hill’s case, a push. After signing up for assistance with the state, she was sent to The Salvation Army of Columbus, Mississippi. That’s where she met Lieutenants Damon and Jennifer Graham.

Lieutenant Jennifer has become Rene’s motivator.

“She’s not forcing me, but she is strongly on me to go to college,” Hill said.

As officers of The Salvation Army, the Grahams see the hardships local residents face after losing their jobs, overcoming addictions, or even trying to piece life back together following jail time. That’s why they are working with the United Way and the Mississippi Department of Human Services to give young adults a boost to get ahead in life through the I.T.T. (In This Together) program.

“We hear a need and see a place where we can help in a person’s life, if they allow it,” Lieutenant Damon said.

“Many of these single mothers grew up in single-parent households,” said Lieutenant Jennifer. “They need that extra motivation to overcome the generational cycle of poverty. There are a lot of barriers in their way, from lack of family support to limited education to their lack of self-worth.”

       Cherrell Murray, program participant

The program was started to show young men and women their value and worth in the community while working in a supportive, Christian environment. The goal is for each person who works through the program to become self-sufficient, not another statistic.

“Receiving assistance from the state is a temporary tool,” Lieutenant Jennifer said. “We are challenging them to dream beyond a temporary fix. This is their first stop, followed hopefully by college or technical training.”

Cherrell Murray, like Hill, has found a new outlook on her future since starting at The Salvation Army.

“It teaches me to love people, care for people,” Murray said.

Now Salvation Army volunteers, both Hill and Murray perform administrative duties while also stocking the food pantry and preparing groceries for people in need. They will soon take a placement exam to find entry level professions suited for their skills. From there, they will begin college level classes. Both women hope to follow in their mentors’ footsteps and become social workers.

“Basically, they both just encourage us to follow our dreams, try to keep on the right path, go to college. They inspire us a lot to make us want to do more,” Hill said.

 

Jon Kalahar is the Communications Director for the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division.