Salvation Army Laurel Helps Families Through COVID-19, Bankruptcy, and Hard Times

The Salvation Army of Laurel’s Emergency Food Assistance program has dramatically increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Bankruptcy, health conditions, and lack of government assistance left a Laurel, Mississippi family strapped for money and food during the pandemic. Grandparents have become caregivers so that parents can work during the pandemic, resulting in a need for more food to keep children fed. The family turned to The Salvation Army for assistance and received weekly food boxes to aid them during financial recovery.

“We have been able to do weekly distributions due to community support and local food assistance programs. The family has since shared how this food has kept them from going hungry and how The Salvation Army’s outreach to this family has encouraged them during a difficult time in their lives. This is why we exist; to help our neighbors in need,” shared Major Raymond Pruitt, Laurel Corps Officer.

Another family applied through the Angel Tree program and needed bedroom furniture for their children. Laurel Corps Officers informed the community of the need to help this family. A donor saw news coverage of the need and purchased beautiful new beds for the family right away. The Salvation Army delivery truck needed repair and was unable to deliver beds to the family, so the donor also donated an additional $600 to pay for our vehicle to get out of the shop. The Salvation Army delivered the new furniture to the family, thanks to this giving individual.

“Our neighbors help us just as much as we help them. It’s a community effort to make sure everyone is well taken care of. We are so appreciative of our donors, and we’re blessed and thankful to be here to serve the Laurel community,” Major Pruitt shared.

Walker County Service Center: “We’re more than just a thrift store.”

COVID-19 has impacted most communities in one way or another. Some have adjusted by working and learning from home, and others follow CDC guidelines with their office life. Some lost their jobs or received pay cuts that have altered the daily functioning of their lives. Some families suffered such financial hardship that they have turned to The Salvation Army for assistance with food, utilities, and holiday aid.

‘There’s just so much that The Salvation Army does. We are more than a thrift store,” stated Cynthia Smith, Walker County Service Center Director.

Although The Salvation Army provides food and hydration for our neighbors in need, we also provide financial relief amid COVID-19. People who have never been in the system before have reached out to The Salvation Army throughout 2020. Some have lost their jobs, had pay cuts, or gotten sick from COVID-19 and weren’t able to work, which meant they couldn’t pay their bills. Smith was able to get a grant for the Walker County Service Center to take care of all of anyone who needed aid’s bills for a month. It gave them a month of not having to worry about bills. The bill type didn’t matter (car note, insurance, utilities, etc.). If they showed a need, The Salvation Army would cover it.
“Now what we are seeing is people who are actually sick with the coronavirus who need assistance with their bills. We’re also dealing with house fires and other disasters this time of year,” Smith stated.

Other ways the Walker County Service Center offers assistance includes Project Share, where we cover utilities for seniors or anyone who is on 100% disability. The Army is also partnered with Daybreak Family Resource Center, which deals with domestic abuse. When women and children have a domestic violence situation, it’s through this program. It’s confidential and hidden away to keep them safe. Most of them leave home with nothing to escape the abusive situation. When they are ready to get back out on their own and get a new home, the Army supply’s them with food and household goods.
The Walker County Service Center is also partnered with the Department of Human Resources. Six children were taken from their parents due to substance abuse and placed with a great aunt and uncle. The new guardians didn’t have any clothes for the children or the resources to provide those necessities. Smith allowed the family to come into the thrift store after hours and let them shop for anything they needed, free of charge.

“A little girl came running across the center to me, and she had something cuffed in her hand. She looked at me and said, ‘Can I have this!?’ She was so excited, and I looked to see what it was. It was a pair of socks. She’d never had a pair of socks, and it meant the world to her. She received her first pair of socks at age four. These are the things that we can do,” Smith shared.

To learn more about what The Salvation Army does to serve the Walker County community, visit To Support the Walker County Service Center, donate at