The Salvation Army Helping Neighbors In Need During COVID-19 Throughout Alabama

The Salvation Army has been there for our neighbors in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few memorable events from Alabama Corps.


Coastal, AL

Ms. Casey M., a single mother of two teenage girls, was working as an event planner at a local country club. Her hours were severely cut due to the pandemic, and she had difficulty getting unemployment benefits. She was unable to pay her rent and needed help until government assistance kicked in. The Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama Area Command received funds from several local foundations for rent and utilities. The Salvation Army helped her with rent payments to keep current. She was so grateful that she reached out to her social worker and send an email saying, “Thank you so much for your help through all of this. This has been a dark time in my life, but you have been a shining ray of hope! Our community is blessed to have someone so devoted to its citizens and to our Lord!

Dothan, AL

The Salvation Army of Dothan received a call from a single working mother of three, requesting rental assistance. She explained that she was working the dayshift at the prison, which worked perfectly with her children’s school day and enabled her to not have childcare. Her hours were cut and changed to a 3 pm-12 am night shift when the pandemic began. She was forced to resign her position as she could not pay her bills or childcare with the reduced hours, and her new schedule would interfere with her children’s school schedule. A United Way Covid-19 grant was able to provide rental assistance for the mother. Her landlord had communicated with The Salvation Army that this was the first time she had ever had an issue paying rent or late notice.

Throughout the rental assistance process, this client was active in looking for employment. She has shared that the rental assistance she received through our program allowed her to keep her household together. She reports that she is currently employed, and the family is working hard to get back on their feet.

Florence, AL

While The Salvation Army of Florence was able to assist many individuals and families during the Covid-19 crisis, with many services ranging from financial assistance and food provision, one instance stands out above the rest. Thomas and Brenda, along with their 18-month-old daughter, all contracted the virus around the same time. As you can imagine, this has been very strenuous for the entire family as sickness had been intense, and the financial impact was significant. Amid their struggle, The Salvation Army provided them with daily meals through our Community Care Ministries and provided other personal and comfort items as they pressed through. The family is on the mend, and financial stability will be restored. The services provided daily free up their funds to be used for other financial needs.

Decatur, AL

Sarah Jones, a client in The Salvation Army of Decatur food pantry, has gone through a long and arduous journey over the past year. She and her husband had some severe addiction issues that needed to be addressed and treated. The Decatur Corps was able to advise them on some local treatment options in a community outpatient capacity. Their children were placed in foster care by the Department of Human Resources of Lawrence County and had a safety plan, which they needed to follow.

Throughout the process, Mr. & Mrs. Jones maintained a positive outlook through spiritual and medical guidance, leading them to become better parents and better people. The Salvation Army of Decatur ensured all their most basic human needs were met through the food and clothing assistance provided. Many clients that come into the food pantry for assistance are experiencing a short-term emergency need. However, there is an opportunity to provide guidance and direction to those who ask for help.

The Decaur Corps kept up with the ongoing treatment schedule and progress with Mr. & Mrs. Jones and liaised with the Department of Human Resources whenever information was requested. They completed their treatment program and satisfied all the requirements of the safety plan. Supervised visitation was the first step for them, but eventually, they regained custody of their children. The Salvation Army was able to assist them with food, clothing, household essentials, and assorted kitchen necessities for their new home, and their outlook on the future is significantly improved.

Montgomery, AL

During the COVID pandemic, when people were getting laid off from work, The Salvation Army of Montgomery helped one of our male residents establish a new career in inpatient care in a local senior living facility. Officers taught him about saving money and operating his life on a budget. The Montgomery Corps was able to partner with a couple of local agencies to get the client a fully furnished three-bedroom house and assist him with purchasing his own vehicle to cut back on transportation expenses. The client reports that he is still working on the job now and doing well.

The Road to Recovery: Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction

David began using prescription drugs in 2009 after knee surgery and soon became addicted to his medication. Realizing his addiction was spiraling out of control, David sought help at a drug rehabilitation center in Madison, Alabama. He did well after leaving rehab but relapsed six months later when he lost his job. His wife became pregnant around the same time, causing added financial stress.

David kept his relapse under control as much as he could until it finally overpowered him in 2014. He was unstable, frequently changing jobs and living out of a motel. He became fed up with his situation and attempted to overcome his addiction on his own. After three months of sobriety, David checked into the Salvation Army Center of Hope Homeless Shelter in Florence, Alabama.

He also joined the City of Florence recycling program to pay off prior warrants but wanted a way of earning money to begin saving for his new life journey.

“I wanted to begin working so that I could start saving for a place of my own. I went to a temp service and got a job that same day. My judge saw that I was trying to better myself, so he cut the fines on my warrants so that I could reduce my time recycling and spend more time working to save money,” David shared.

Although David was now working full-time to create a better life for himself and his kids, old financial habits stuck. He often spent his paychecks irresponsibly, but his caseworker offered advice and helped David become more financially responsible. The Coronavirus pandemic began, and self-isolation was mandatory. Limited access to the outside world also helped David stay focused on his goals if overcoming drug addiction and saving money to become financially independent.

“My social worker has helped me to get my first apartment. The Salvation Army has allowed me to reconnect with my boys and has given me the patience to wait and find the right things instead of jumping first,” David shared.

“Everyday someone was encouraging me. I’ve been to other rehab facilities and felt like I was just a number, but here someone asks how I’m doing every day,” David added.

“You could tell that there was something different about David. He was ready for someone to help him.”

David is currently in transitional housing and is saving to find a home. He’s now able to visit his sons every weekend, and his eldest son has moved in with him. Having this opportunity has helped with reunifying his relationship with all three sons.

“Since David has come, he has been such a big help. Everyone has chores to do. He takes the initiative to help around the Corps and is a great leader. He’s even helped other residents with their chores. David may feel that we have been a blessing to him, but he has been a blessing to us. He’s a really good guy and a go-getter. I saw it from the beginning. You could tell that there was something different about David. He was ready for someone to help him. He just needed some guidance,” shared Captain Wendy Deuel, The Salvation Army of Florence Corps Officer.

“He came at the right time. We may think of COVID-19 as something horrible, but God made this an opportunity for David to get on the right track. It gave him the time he needed to better himself and focus on himself. We have to learn to look at things the way God may look at them. COVID-19 may not be a good thing, but it was a good thing for David. I praise God for the storm. Through COVID-19, David was able to get his kids back. I can’t wait to see what else God has planned for him,” Captain Wendy Deuel added.

David is sober for the first time in five years. This October marks a year of him being drug-free.

Overcoming Drug Addiction, Finding Love, and Building a New Life

TJ Lackey, a former shelter resident who arrived with drug addiction problems, is now sober, married, has started a family, and is working over maintenance for The Salvation Army of the Shoals.

Lackey is from Cullman, Alabama. He lived with his grandparents and was raised in the church. Although his grandparents loved him dearly and did everything they could to prevent him from straying onto a dangerous path, Lackey fell into drug usage at an early age. He had been using methamphetamine for 15 years before coming to the Army. Lackey came to Florence for a weekend trip a few years ago to visit a friend, ended up moving in with that friend, who was also a meth addict, and fell into a slump. Lackey and the friend were eventually evicted from their home with nowhere to go, so they decided to turn to The Salvation Army. Lackey got clean and sober while staying at The Salvation Army and met his wife while recovering. She became pregnant, which motivated him, even more, to make sure not to return to his addiction.

“I decided to grow up. I got two jobs and stayed clean. I’ve been clean ever since I’ve joined the Army,” said Lackey.

Lackey has been sober for over three years.

“You give and you get back. God is treating me good and life’s good and I love it.”

Shortly after coming to the shelter, he started attending church at the Army and became more involved, including volunteering to ring the bell during kettle season. He now has a fulltime job in maintenance at The Salvation Army, allowing him to keep up with his financial obligations.

“Thank the Lord for The Salvation Army and everything He’s done to change my life. I’m happy to do my chores when I wake up. It has given me a chance to save money to get a place and other things that I need. I’m never late on the rent, and I pay my utility bills at least three weeks ahead. I like being ahead. God is good to me,” Lackey shared.

“Although I strayed, I’m back. I wasted so much of my life. I guess I just got so lost in my addiction that I didn’t think about my future and kept self-destructing. I’m doing well now. I’ve stayed out of trouble, I don’t associate with any enablers, and I’m enjoying getting closer to God. You give and you get back. God is treating me good and life’s good and I love it,” Lackey added.

“Thank God and The Salvation Army.”

The Salvation Army of the Shoals has a church service on Wednesday evenings. Church members and shelter residents have dinner together afterward. That’s usually the time Lackey would see a Salvation Army officer in uniform.

When I first caught a glimpse of somebody in uniform, I realized I didn’t truly understand what The Salvation Army was about. I was like, ‘Who’s that? What? A Captain?’ The uniforms intrigued me. I didn’t see them much as a resident in the rehabilitation program, but they were at church to bring the message on Wednesday nights. I felt the presence of the Lord with their message and how loving this whole organization is. I’m just so thankful that I came here, and I’m still here. I’m still a part of the church family, too,” Lackey stated.

“I love the mission here at the Army. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’ve come so far. I pray every day that the Lord helps me to stay strong. I stay busy doing my work, studying the Bible, and volunteering. Thank God and The Salvation Army for being good to me. I’m thankful to be a part of a team that does good for others,” Lackey added.


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.


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.”


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.


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.