Bikes Donated To Aid Shelter Residents in Transporting to and From Job Interviews

Andrew Magee, Criminal Justice Department Coordinator at Louisiana College and Sunday School Teacher at River Outreach Church, and Bobette Lowe, a member of Magee’s Sunday School class, team up every month to host community feedings and giveaways in the Alexandria, Louisiana community. The themes change each month, ranging from community hair cuts, essential winter giveaways, and more. Their latest outreach involved donating ten bicycles to The Salvation Army of Alexandria, Bibles, and a meal consisting of red beans and rice, cornbread, and cake to those in need in Alexandria.

A majority of the homeless community who gather near the levee where Lowe and Magee distribute food and goods are residents of The Salvation Army, so the two decided to donate ten bikes to the corps to aid residents in traveling to and from job interviews. The bikes will provide flexibility to residents so that they do not have to rely on a public transportation schedule or risk being late due to having to walk to interviews. Residents will be able to rent bikes daily so that everyone at the shelter has an opportunity to utilize the gift.

“The Salvation Army is more than thankful to Andrew and Bobette for their generous donation. These bikes will aid our residents in finding employment and securing a brighter future for themselves,” stated Major Tim Williford, The Salvation Army Alexandria Corps Officer.

Lowe and Magee have grown to know the homeless community well by distributing food once a month and passing out blessing bags at the beginning of COVID-19. The kits consisted of jars of peanut butter, crackers, and juices to keep those in need full until they reach the next destination of feeding.

“It was laid on my heart to help people who are trying to help themselves. We wanted to give a hand up, not a handout. The bikes are to aid in residents securing jobs. The feedings are because God tells us that we should feed one another, whether it’s with knowledge or food,” Lowe shared.

“We held an event before last winter, where we filled backpacks with blankets, gloves, and winter essentials. We’ve also invited beauticians out onto the levee to give haircuts and makeovers to the homeless. We made GQ models out of some of the guys. The glow that a lot of them had after getting a haircut was unbelievable. They were so grateful, and it was so refreshing for them. We hope to do that one again,” Magee added.

“These are the people that Jesus witnessed to.”

Magee and Lowe rotate their feedings with other churches, usually taking on the third Saturday of each month. They also do closet cleanups, where they set up tables filled with clothes and other goods. There are even some stores in the area that will inform them when items are going on sale to provide what they can for the homeless. These tables are set up at every community feeding.

“We’ve built a relationship with the homeless community. They know our vehicles, and when they see us, they know we are coming to show love to them and bring them goods,” Lowe said.

“These are the people that Jesus witnessed to. He didn’t go to the All Saints churches. He went to the streets and found the needy. That’s who He loved on and fed. And in His word, we can learn more of His likeness, and that’s the goal; to show his word to others and to be more in his likeness,” Lowe added.

Magee and Lowe would like others to get involved, whether it’s feeding the community or donating bike supplies to the Army.

“I’d like to vocalize to the community that they can take part in this as well. There’s always room to improve and give back. People in the community can get involved by helping with the bikes’ upkeep. —Inner tubes for flat tires, bike helmets, chains, and other supplies. Just swing by the shelter and donate what you can. In my heart, I believe this should be a community effort and it becomes important for the church to connect with the community. Help by action. Just bring your donations to Major Williford,” Magee added.

Back to School!

Children from families that can afford access to educational materials and supplies have a solid advantage over those who don’t. Which is why The Salvation Army works to address that inequality by providing the materials that can give children a leg up. The right supplies can be the tools they need to compete with those who have access and opportunities that many families cannot afford. The Salvation Army takes part in local partnerships to nationwide efforts that encourage communities to give back to those in need.

One of those local partnerships was in Birmingham, Alabama, where The Salvation Army placed a single truck outside of a local Staples. It was part of a small program, where over the course of the weekend customers were encouraged to donate supplies to local children. “Working with a local Staples in the Trussville community was part of our effort to help collect supplies those in need,” says Lori Cork, Public Relations Director for the Birmingham Salvation Army. “Those supplies will go to help serve students in the Birmingham City School District and Jefferson County schools,” she says.

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, The Salvation Army had their 2019 Backpack Giveaway. It was an outdoor event where families could come to receive a backpack stuffed with supplies for their child. “It’s so important for the young people of our city to have school supplies so that they can have success and the tools they need to break the chains of poverty,” says Major Donald Tekautz, Corps Officer of the Baton Rouge Salvation Army. The event placed over 500 backpacks in the hands of young people, all while offering refreshments to those who came to the event.

In Jackson, Mississippi, the annual “Back to School Bash” provided school supplies as well as free health and dental screenings. Attendees were treated with fun and food, with jump houses for the children in attendance and food trucks to serve the party atmosphere. According to Michelle Hartfield, Director of Public Relations for the Jackson Salvation Army, “Successful early childhood education is so important in breaking the cycle of generational poverty. Without the necessary supplies for basic learning, students cannot be expected to thrive. Our goal is to set students up for success as young as possible to carry that success through the rest of their lives.” In the end, they gave out roughly 500 backpacks filled with supplies for local children getting ready for the school year.

Saturday, August 3rd, saw the “Stuff the Bus” event—a national partnership between The Salvation Army and Walmart—in thousands of Walmart stores across the country. Salvation Army volunteers greeted customers with an opportunity to fill a bin with supplies for local students. “There are thousands of children heading back to school soon, and many will need assistance to start the school year off right. By donating school supplies for a child in need, you’re easing the burden parents experience at the start of the school year and helping set the right tone for these kids as they head back to school,” says Major Kent Davis, Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division.

The terrible cycle of generational poverty affects far too many low-income families. Which is why The Salvation Army places an emphasis on education as a part of service. With the help of the community, The Salvation Army can continue to help those in need escape the cycle of poverty and set whatever path for themselves they set their minds on.

Do Good Day

“Good afternoon, thank you so much for calling The Salvation Army’s ‘Do Good Day’ phone bank!” That was the greeting callers heard as they phoned into The Salvation Army of Jackson, Mississippi’s inaugural “Do Good Day” event. It was a “Mediathon,” where for 18 hours, with phone lines open as early as 4:30 am, the community called, texted, and hand-delivered cash to help support The Salvation Army’s life changing services for those in need.

Donations began early, as every broadcast media outlet in the city came out to partner with and support the work of The Salvation Army. As live reports flooded the airwaves in the morning, drivers on their way into work could hear the message, “It’s Do Good Day!” on local radio across the dial. Billboards lit up the early morning streets and stayed running all throughout the day, reminding the community that June 27, 2019 was a very good day to do the most good for their community.

The event was a first in the Jackson community. The first with such a broad reach, and the first with so much cooperation and support from local businesses and local media. Do Good Day was the story of the day across the Jackson metro area. “It’s a broad range, multi-media event to raise awareness and money for the missions of The Salvation Army. We say missions because there is a lot we are doing,” said Jackson Development Director and event organizer, Jennifer Bennett.

And those missions are many. The Salvation Army mission is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.” Those needs can include something as immediate as emergency services, as simple as a meal, or as enriching as art education for the next generation. The message of Do Good Day was that the community can help to support these services as volunteers and as donors.

It was a message heard throughout the Jackson area as media outlets, in partnership with The Salvation Army helped raise awareness all day. More than a simple news story, it was an event seen and felt all throughout the community. It was a day where people could see the work of The Salvation Army as more than Red Kettles at Christmas. It was a day when the mission of The Salvation Army became the mission of the people of Jackson. And it was a day where those people raised over $50,000 in donations.

The all-day media event that helped raise that money also raised awareness of how The Salvation Army is making a difference in Jackson. Donations help feed and house people in need. They also make a difference in the lives of children and families. Donors to The Salvation Army do good every day.

Dillard’s Donation Makes a Difference in Baton Rouge

By Rebecca Nichols |
August 31, 2016

Dillard's Donation Makes a Difference in Baton Rouge
August 31, 2016
Rebecca Nichols |

Baton Rouge, LA— Sometimes there isn’t a way to properly express gratitude. There isn’t a hug big enough or a “thank you” loud enough. I’ve experienced that feeling so many times working for The Salvation Army. I’m rarely surprised these days by the love we get from the community, the love that’s shared between neighbors, the love that still exists in our world. It’s comforting to know I can expect it now, but it’s still often too big to put into words. Even when it’s hard to find, I know it’s there because I see it every day where I work. I know there’s hope.

Within a few days of the water rising in South Louisiana, I got an email from Mark Souter with Dillard’s department store. He simply introduced himself and said, “We want to help.”

These are always the most comforting words to hear during a disaster situation, and once I spoke with Mark in person, I really understood how much they wanted to help. Dillard’s wanted to donate 25,000 units of new clothing for flood victims but they also asked how we would distribute it. This isn’t a luxury we can often offer to those we’re assisting, so I told him I wasn’t sure just yet.

Having seen our warehousing site, Mark knew we didn’t have racks or shelves for clothing and offered to send his people in to rail out the walls. Only one problem, there was no air in the part of the mall we were utilizing for our distribution center. I told him I didn’t think we could fix the air conditioners, mechanically or financially, and he said, “Let me see what I can do.” I then got a text from a volunteer coordinator working at the warehouse… She said the outlets weren’t working either so we couldn’t even plug in large fans. Mark said, “Let me see what I can do.” I asked Mark if he could loan us some racks to put the clothing on… He said, “Let me see what I can do.”

This became a massive job, but also one very special to The Salvation Army. He sent us an electrician to fix the outlets and air conditioning, at no charge to us. He sent us 150 racks on which to place the clothing, at no charge to us. He sent us half a million dollars in clothes to place on those racks …at no charge to anyone. He was one of our many heroes during this flood event. And because he was our hero, he became the hero of thousands of people we’ve helped with that Dillard’s blessing. I jokingly texted Mark that we loved him on the day he solved so many problems for us, but it wasn’t really a joke. There was love all around. We loved because he loved. I see the love and there is hope.