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The Mississippi Gulf Coast Area Command Distributes Food to Seniors

The Salvation Army of the MS Gulf Coast is serving meals throughout the community as well as preparing food packages for local seniors.

Majors Anita and Bradley Caldwell, Salvation Army Area Commanders, took surveys earlier this week—checking with families throughout the community to get an estimate of how much food they had at home.

“We began Sunday as a trial to see what the turnout would be and if we could properly practice social distancing while distributing food. It went well. Most families only had an average of three to five days worth of food at home,” said Major Bradley Caldwell.

The Army has been able to serve over 100 meals a day to the Gulf Coast community and is delivering meals to senior individuals who aren’t able to procure food from the Kroc Center as they normally would. Social distancing is being taken into account during food deliveries, with staff knocking on the door, leaving meals in a visible place, and moving away from the door to wait and ensure that individuals receive their meal.

“Two women stopped by and took 30 grocery packages back to their senior residents. They were very thankful, and it was a blessing that they were aware of their resident’s needs,” stated Major Anita Caldwell.

“One resident even told one of the women that the hotdogs she received in her grocery package were the best hot dogs she’s had in a long time,” Major Anita Caldwell added.

Pascagoula, Lucedale, and Gulfport Salvation Army locations are providing food packages by appointment, and the Biloxi Kroc Center is providing prepared meals. Though the Army is currently focusing on seniors within the community, officers suspect other demographics will need help as the effects of COVID-19 are more prevalent in their area.

“We know several people who have said they have one more week of pay. When that money is gone, they won’t have resources to provide food for themselves. When that time comes, we’re not sure how we’ll be called upon to make a difference,” stated Major Bradley Caldwell. “We’re working to do what we can as we’re being asked to help by local government officials. We’re limiting our focus to seniors in the neighborhood for now because we don’t know what responsibilities we may have to take on in the coming days,” he added.

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.

Jackson Salvation Army Delivering Necessities To Seniors

With the disruption of normal routines and access to necessary supplies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,  a disproportionate number of lower-income Americans could be impacted. The Salvation Army in Jackson, MS is taking steps to mitigate this impact and provide physical and spiritual care. With a desire to keep their community safe and to follow CDC recommendations,

“It is our goal to make certain that our senior population does not go hungry or forgotten during this difficult time”

The Salvation Army Jackson has canceled all community programs in their facilities. 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. “It is our goal to make certain that our senior population does not go hungry or forgotten during this difficult time,” said Michelle Hartfield, the Director of Community Relations in Jackson.

If you would like to help The Salvation Army continue to serve your neighbors in need throughout this crisis, you can make a donation online here.

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.

Stuff the Bus

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

The Salvation Army Breaks Ground on $25 Million Center of Hope Campus

Over 200 people turned out to help The Salvation Army of Birmingham celebrate the construction launch of the new   Salvation Army Center of Hope, a 119,000 square foot facility, which will include additional emergency and transitional housing, and a new education and workforce development center for clients and the Birmingham community.

The Center of Hope will be funded by the Building Hope Capital Campaign initiative, which is a $15 million capital campaign. The 4.1 acre campus will be comprised of a building complex that will place major Salvation Army programs and services together for a one-stop location to provide comprehensive family, community and social services. The new facility will allow The Salvation Army room for future expansion and growth.  The program and services housed at the New Center of Hope will offer solutions to some of the biggest societal issues and challenges faced today by families, youth, our neighborhoods and our city – problems such as poverty, homelessness, addiction and education.

“This is an important day in the history of The Salvation Army of Birmingham. We’ve been providing services in the city since 1899 and have been in the same building for nearly 50 years,” said Major Bob Parker, Area Commander. “The new Center of Hope will provide an opportunity to serve those in need in new ways and we are excited about the impact it will make in people’s lives for years to come.”

Meet Our New Divisional Commanders

Steve Morris Wendy Morris salvation army alm dc

Majors Wendy and Steve Morris

 

The Morris family’s move from the Oklahoma–Arkansas Division to the Alabama–Louisiana–Mississippi Division has been such a hectic here to there, there to here, even Doctor Seuss wouldn’t be able to keep track of it in his library of books. To say Majors Steve and Wendy Morris hit the ground running in ALM is an understatement, just ask their children Angela (22) and Andrew(14).

The Morrises, within their first few weeks of taking over as Divisional Commanders, have visited all but five sets of officers and their families in this Division. Now, add to that schedule a massive flood in southern Louisiana, and you understand there has been no chance to slow down. “This is very intentional on our part,” said Major Steve Morris. “To go out and see our people, it is intentional to meet and encourage our people first, the most valuable asset of any Army.”

But, Major Morris says these visits aren’t about directing, more about supporting than anything else.

“We meet them at their homes, read a scripture, and pray a blessing. Asking God to make their home a place of rest and rectifying.”

It’s interesting to find out that the Majors Morris never worked in a divisional headquarters until they were appointed Divisional Commanders over AOK four years ago. Major Steve Morris says he was given some great advice before accepting that appointment.

While Majors Morris were serving as National Capital Area Commanders in Washington, DC, The Territorial Commander, Commissioner David Jeffery “assigned us as Divisional Leaders in AOK and instructed us to serve as the ‘corps officer to the corps officers’ and that continues to be my marching orders to this day.”

Major Morris says he is more comfortable at the corps level because that’s the “heart of the army” still, he wants the success of this Division to be a democracy rather than a monarchy.  The Headquarter’s sole purpose is to resource the field units in order for each to be prepared and equipped to serve their respective communities with the best programs possible.

“I have no interest in being a boss. I am passionate about leading an effective team.” The members of that team include Divisional Officers, Corps Officers serving in the field appointments all across the three state region and all employees and volunteers in each community.  An Army tends to accomplish its mission when all are moving toward the same goal.

He also looks to lead this Division more like a business, citing his favorite tv show, The Profit.  The main character focuses on three main areas to grow businesses…products, the process and people. Our advantage is that our product is helping people improve their process to productive living.

“By looking at the communities we serve and helping our officers get better in these three areas, I think that’s our priority, put an emphasis on our people. Our greatest asset is our people.”

Major Morris adds he is very impressed with ALM so far, but still needs a little more time to set goals for himself and the Division.  “My mission is to train, equip and resource every officer, soldier and employee to reach their God-Given potential to continue to Do the Most Good across the three state region.”

“More time” being the key, but with five more sets of officers yet to visit, school underway and Christmas rapidly approaching, don’t look for the Morrises to slow down anytime soon.

 

— Jon Kalahar, Communications Director, Salvation Army ALM Division

Volunteers Arrive As Salvation Army Starts Supplies Hand Out

dillard university student volunteers louisiana flood

Baton Rouge resident, Vanessa Yates, stands outside a vacant part of the Cortana Mall now turned into The Salvation Army’s distribution center waiting for her name to be called.  Yates says her home was under eight feet of water just a couple days ago and now she’s trying to clean up. After a few more minutes, a volunteer brings her a case of water, cleaning supplies, and a food box.

“It’s good to find people who care,” said Yates. “It means a lot, I was in tears cleaning out my home yesterday.”

The process is the same for hundreds of other residents who’ve shown up for help. Numbers tabulated by the state emergency operation center estimate as many as 600,000 people impacted by the historic rainfall and flood.

“This disaster is incredibly widespread,” said Major Ed Binnix, Incident Commander. “But we will be here to feed these folks and get them the supplies they need to make it through this.”

Plus, friends and neighbors are stepping up to stand with The Salvation Army in a big way. Neighbors like 100 students from Dillard University who showed up at the distribution center to help organize supplies for each resident who came by.

“Some of these students are from Baton Rouge,” said Jeremy Carter, Dillard’s Director of Student Leadership.  “We know education combined with community service can make a difference.”

They weren’t shy either, as they dove into piles of donated goods and started creating cleaning kits and food boxes to be handed out.

“Not everyone is as fortunate as we are. It’s very important to make a difference,” said Anwar Robinson, Dillard Resident Life Coordinator.

The Salvation Army depends on the passion and compassion of others, like students who volunteer or residents who show up to donate supplies to truly make a difference in times of unspeakable disaster.


To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

Father/Son Team Delivers Food and Hope in Baton Rouge Flood

la floods, ketcham, volunteers

The Ketchams make a great team when it comes to disaster response. The father, son duo are one of the most experienced crews working in Baton Rouge this week following historic flooding throughout many parts of Southern Louisiana.

“I know how he wants things…I can anticipate what he wants,” said Ike Ketcham.

Dan drives and Ike navigates. They have worked as a team since Hurricane Gustav.

The pair moved to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit looking for work in construction. What they found was a way to help those in desperate need.

“We’ve had people try to pay us for the meals we give them off the canteen,” said Dan Ketcham. “I tell them I will only accept a handshake. You can see their surprise first, then the gratitude.”

Despite how “fluid” things seem to go on their canteen, their relationship hasn’t always been so smooth. Not too long ago, Dan was asked to read the bible scripture during church services at the New Orleans Salvation Army. He read from Luke 15…the story of the prodigal son.

“It took me a long time to read that cause my son was lost. I got choked up,” said Ketcham.

Ike saw what that scripture did to his father. Dan says he can’t explain what happened after that but Ike did a one eighty.

At one time, caught up in drugs and alcohol, Ike says The Salvation Army changed his life.

“The Salvation Army gave me the opportunity to change my life,” said Ike Ketcham. “I feel like I’m the luckiest person ever.”

Now, the Ketchams run their “ministry” out of a canteen each time they are called upon.

“I see how people are grateful, and the community is changed. It blows my mind every time we go out,” said Ike.

“The Salvation Army is a family, they welcomed me with open arms, and that’s what I do from the canteen,” says Dan.


To help those in these flooded areas across Southeast Louisiana, you can donate by going to http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/gulf_coast_floods.

About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide.

ALM personnel heading to West Virginia aiding Army’s response to “historic” flood

West Virginia 2The Salvation Army is actively helping survivors of the “historic” flooding in West Virginia, but with more rain expected and so many residents in need, the Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi (ALM) Division has accepted the request to send our Emergency/Disaster Service Director, Terry Lightheart and Baton Rouge Corps Officer, Captain Brett Meredith to help with The Salvation Army’s response.

“The Salvation Army rallies to those in need,” said Lightheart. “Right now, the greatest need in West Virginia is getting food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual care.  We are working with government agencies, other relief organizations and thousands of volunteers. We have to work together to do all we can to help those affected get back to some normalcy as soon as possible.”

“The flooding has been devastating to the region, and as I prepare to go to the affected area, I pray that The Salvation Army and other organizations can provide comfort, care, and material assistance to those who may have lost everything,” states Captain Meredith.

The flooding began Thursday when nine inches or more of rain fell on parts of West Virginia in six to eight hours. Forty-four counties, primarily in the southeastern part of the state, were under a state of emergency on Thursday night.

In the first 72 hours, The Salvation Army provided more than 6,600 meals, nearly 3,400 snacks, and more 7,500 drinks to flood victims and emergency responders.  These services will continue as long as needed and as requested by West Virginia County Emergency Operation Centers.  As relief efforts continue, The Salvation Army anticipates widespread distribution of cleanup supplies and the initiation of case work after the July 4th holiday.

How people can help:

You can help by providing financial assistance to fund the flood relief work in West Virginia.  Those who wish to support The Salvation Army’s disaster response may do so by sending a check earmarked “June 2016 West Virginia Floods”  to their local Salvation Army office, online at http://tinyurl.com/zu6rn47, or by making a credit card donation at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.  Be sure to designate the donation for the “June 2016 West Virginia Floods.”

Although The Salvation Army is not requesting in-kind goods donations at this time, gifts of gently-used household goods, clothing, etc., are always needed by Salvation Army Family Stores to support their work in the local community. Find out more at SAtruck.org, or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).

 About The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyalm.org.

Flight to the North Pole

On Dec. 15, 2015, The Salvation Army of Jackson, MS, participated in the 10th Annual Flight to the North Pole event. More than 60 children were treated to the event, where they were “flown” to the North Pole by the MS Air National Guard, met Santa & Mrs. Claus, played with elves, and each received their very own bike and sack of toys and goodies! The event was sponsored by Y101, the Mississippi Air National Guard, the Brain Injury Association, and The Salvation Army Jackson Metro Area.