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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

Paychecks running out with many businesses still closed days after Irma, Army filling need

Sebring, FL. –In Highlands County, Florida, power is slowing being restored but for many it’s been five days in the sweltering heat with no air conditioning, no water and no ice. As if that wasn’t enough, many businesses have not reopened and hourly workers have no new income.

Melissa Gage is one of those workers.

“Out of power since Sunday, it just seems like it keeps getting hotter,” said Gage. “My paycheck ran out so we are here for a meal and some water.

Gage picked up six hot meals for her family just like several hundred other local residents in and around Sebring. The Salvation Army will top ten thousand meals served in Highlands County on their fifth day of service.

Ashley Ivey and her husband have two young girls. It’s been hard for them as well without power.

“They told us it would be Tuesday by midnight(for power to be restored),” said Ivey. “But our daughters have suffered heat exhaustion, they’re allergic to mosquitos too so it’s difficult right now.

Ivey said she explained to her daughters about the storm that, “this is what happens when you live in Florida.”

For many, the sooner the power can be restored, the better. The Salvation Army will remain in place to fill any needs for several days once the power does return.

22 workers from 6 states in Sebring, Florida with One Goal…Bringing Hope

Sebring, FL – Hectic doesn’t begin to describe the last three weeks for The Salvation Army across the southern United States. Two major hurricanes in Harvey and Irma, and potentially a third in Maria. Canteen crews, staff, volunteers and equipment from all over the country have converged on Texas and Florida, and will for the forseeable future. That makes for some pretty interesting staffing situations.

Like here in Sebring, Florida, officers, staff and volunteers from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida are working side by side to prepare and distribute thousands of meals and drinks each day.

“I think it’s great,” said Victor Rutledge, who manages the Kentucky-Tennessee Division’s summer camp, Camp Paradise Valley. “To work with folks from other areas, connect with them, that’s the neat part of this.”

With this assignment, Rutledge ran into now McComb, Mississippi Corps Officer, Lieutenant Thomas Marion. Rutledge served as Marion’s summer camp counselor several years ago. They haven’t seen each other in eight years. Lieutenant Marion says the combination of staff from across the South and the country doesn’t have that big of an effect of the operation.

“We are all here for the same goal. It doesn’t matter where they’re from. It’s fun hearing the different accents,” said Lieutenant Marion.

In Sebring, first time disaster volunteer, Laderious Dowell from Memphis, Tennessee is working side by side with experienced veteran, Ronnie Cicchitto from Tampa, Florida who is serving meals from a mobile feeding truck in his forth disaster.

“We all work good together,” said Cicchitto. “Everyone helping the residents in ways only The Salvation Army can.”

The way the people feel when they see how much we care, they were saying we are the only people who do care for them,” said Dowell.

In the four days of service since the team has arrived in Sebring, Florida, nearly ten thousand meals have been served to Highlands County.

Residents grateful to see Salvation Army truck, thankful for food and drink

Avon Park, FL (September 15, 2017) – In Avon Park and much of Highlands County power has been out since Hurricane Irma blew through taking many power lines and poles with her. Residents spend their days outside their houses simply because it gets too hot. Ice is over an hour away, and many don’t have money to spend on gas to drive back and forth. So, they wait.

“Right now, everything is happening in other places,” said Stacy Teague, Avon Park resident. “We don’t have gas, ice, a lot of things we need.”

Friday, The Salvation Army mobile feeding truck showed up with hot meals and drinks.

“You guys are a blessing, coming to Avon Park,” said Teague.

Those needing food quickly stepped in line thankful for the meal. Maria Jimenez lives just across the street from where The Salvation Army set up and brought her grand-daughters.

“It’s a joy,” said Jimenez. “It’s a blessing The Salvation Army can help those who can’t get a meal at home.”

Luckily, Jimenez has a gas stove at home and can boil water. Many residents like the Riveria’s need electricity for everything in their home. The Riveria’s were happy to see The Salvation Army truck pull up.

“It feels good,” said Iodalis Riveria, helping translate for her grandmother, Naomi Riveria. “Our food has spoiled. Basically, we come out every day looking for food.”

Out of the Sebring, Florida Corps, The Salvation Army is serving food, drinks, and providing emotional and spiritual care in Avon Park, Lake Placid, and in Sebring.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

The Salvation Army establishing feeding services for Highlands County, Florida following Irma

Sebring, FL  – With Hurricane Irma damage still obvious all across the area, The Salvation Army is working in Highlands County, Florida to meet the immediate needs of residents still without power days after the storm. Water, ice, and a hot meal are all priorities.

“We do have some challenges right now, but we have three feeding trucks at our disposal and those will be out in the county beginning Wednesday,” said Major Ernest Hull, Incident Commander.

The incident command team lead by Major Hull from New Orleans is from the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division and the Kentucky-Tennessee Division.

Sebring Corps Officer, Major Tim Roberts has seen the damage and is helping identify the subdivisions who need a meal, a bottle of water, or just someone who can help.

“We know folks are hurting that’s why we have these crews in town,” said Major Roberts. “The Salvation Army will be here as long as it takes to get things back to normal.

Emotional and Spiritual Care officers will be accompanying mobile feeding trucks to offer encouragement, a pat on the back or a hug.

“We want to minister to the physical needs, but also the spiritual ones, because living without power after you’ve lost so much can be difficult,” said Major Hull. “We want them to know they are not alone in their recovery.”

The Salvation Army will be providing meals at the Sebring Corps location at 3135 Kenilworth Boulevard. Staff will also be assessing damage in Avon Park and Lake Placid to determine feeding locations in those areas.

How People Can Help

The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Online: helpsalvationarmy.org

Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Mail Checks to:

The Salvation Army PO Box 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301

Please designate “Hurricane Harvey” on all checks.

Text to Give: STORM to 51555

Salvation Army enters 2nd week of feeding after military plane crash

Itta Bena, MS – The Salvation Army, Greenwood Corps will continue feeding military personnel and law enforcement for a second week as the investigation and recovery operation is ongoing in Leflore County, Mississippi. Fifteen Marines and one naval corpsman were killed when their KC-130 military plane crashed last Monday afternoon.

“The Marines are still here, law enforcement is still here, so The Salvation Army will be here as long as there is need,” said Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis, Greenwood, Mississippi Corps Officer.

The Salvation Army began feeding Tuesday. Over the weekend, the transition was made to provide breakfast and lunch while local churches provide dinner. The Salvation Army also uses its mobile feeding truck to serve snacks and provide hydration to personnel at the crash site.

“We are working with the area Southern Baptist Association, Mississippi Valley State University and several churches, said Lt. Ellis. “This is just a bunch of folks coming together to help our military, our emergency responders and our law enforcement as they work in the extreme heat.”

So far, in the six days The Salvation Army has served in Leflore County, we have provided 1,773 meals, 2,800 drinks, 575 snacks and prayed with six individuals. With our officers, volunteers and employees have worked 174 hours.

Feeding increases as clean up continues in Hattiesburg area

The Salvation Army now has four mobile feeding units covering the areas affected by the early morning tornado that left a path of destruction in and around Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Along the path of Saturday’s storms, roads are still blocked as power crews work to restore electricity to homes.

Salvation Army canteens set up so residents wouldn’t have to walk or drive too far for a hot meal or something to drink.

“I heard glass breaking and something hitting the house,” said Hattiesburg resident, George Dixon.

Dixon walked over for something to eat. He also was prayed for before he left.

“Seeing this truck makes you feel like someone cares about you,” said Dixon.

Veronica Williams drove up to The Salvation Army canteen knowing she could get a hot meal for her family.

“You always show up when people are in need,” said Williams. “You see that red and white, you are about to get help.”

Help comes in many forms. Michelle Overby and Jordyn Lester lived through Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now living in Hattiesburg, they saw people in need and wanted to help.

“We drove down this street and saw how the people looked, that was how we looked after Katrina, so we had to help,” said Overby.

Michelle and Jordyn made sandwiches, chips bags, snacks and bought water to hand out, but with the road blocked they couldn’t deliver the food to a local church. That’s when they saw The Salvation Army canteen.

“The Salvation Army helped us and we wanted to do that here,” said Lester.

Michelle and Jordyn asked if they could pass out their food next to the canteen, and our disaster workers even let them use one of our tables.

The Salvation Army prepared and delivered meals, served drinks and snacks, and prayed with folks from the community.

With two mobile feeding units on standby ready to help if needed, disaster personnel with assess the need in the area and work with local and state emergency management agencies to provide for those in need.

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

Doing the Most Good: As workers prepare for flooding, Vicksburg and Jackson Corps provide food

The Salvation Army of Vicksburg and Jackson helped feed 50 Warren County workers Thrusday who are filling sandbags around the Old Depot Museum on Levee Street in Vicksburg. Volunteers served lunch as the workers prepare the area for the rising Mississippi River. Workers have been working for days to protect the museum which sits right on the banks of the river. The Mississippi River is expected to crest at Greenville, MS on January 13 and at Vicksburg on January 15.  Our Emergency Disaster Services Director, Terry Lightheart is working with local emergency management organizations to make sure The Salvation Army can respond to areas most in need.

“This is why we are here, to provide food to first responders. In a flood situation, it is these workers filling up the sandbags to hopefully protect this property,” said Lightheart. “Right now, The Salvation Army is on stand by from Greenville and Vicksburg, to Natchez, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, if these local and state agencies need us, we’ll be there.”