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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.

The Salvation Army Responds to Louisiana’s Stay at Home Order

On Sunday, March 22, 2020, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced an official Stay at Home order for the entire state of Louisiana due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the state. The order took effect on Monday, March 23 and is in place until the morning of Monday, April 13, when local schools are scheduled to re-open. This mandate affects The Salvation Army throughout Louisiana in many ways, most notably in shelter operations. All seven of The Salvation Army’s shelters throughout the state are now housing residents 24/7. Shelters that usually serve only breakfast and dinner will now be 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 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.

Louisiana’s Stay at Home order is also resulting in the temporary closure of all Salvation Army thrift stores in the state.

New Orleans

The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command is sheltering 96 residents and providing three meals a day, plus activities to help alleviate boredom for its residents. Major Ernest Hull, New Orleans Salvation Army Area Commander, says that while 96 isn’t max-capacity for the shelter, they are limiting acceptance to the current residents for social distancing purposes. Many of these shelter residents are young children, and Major Hull is making sure to keep them entertained as well as safe—with “drive-in” movie nights and more.

“We’re trying to give them activities and the residents are good about constantly cleaning and disinfecting their dorms,” said Major Hull. Majors Ernest and Debra Hull are also currently living in the shelter to help provide for the residents’ needs during this unprecedented time.

In addition to taking care of their shelter population, The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command has also been requested by the state to help feed the unsheltered homeless population in the area. “While this is not your typical disaster setting, The Salvation Army is going to rise to the cause and meet the human needs of our communities to the best of our abilities. We have never retreated before and we’re not going to retreat now,” said Major Hull.

Baton Rouge

The Salvation Army of Baton Rouge has temporarily closed its thrift store and social services office due to the state-wide Stay at Home order. The Corps’ youth programs—the School for Performing Arts and character-building programs—have briefly stopped at this time to practice social distancing. The Men’s Recovery Program, which houses program participants, will continue with its regular schedule.

The shelter has limited its acceptance to 50 residents and is currently at capacity. Following city protocol, the shelter will keep an eye open for people showing signs of the virus. Shelter residents and staff are encouraged to wash hands frequently and to practice social distancing.

In addition to increased shelter operations, the Baton Rouge Salvation Army is also providing food to school-aged children and their families throughout the area. Nearly 150 grab-and-go lunches are provided to families Monday, Wednesday, and Friday throughout Baton Rouge.

“We’re here. The Salvation Army has been serving Baton Rouge for 115 years, and it’s not going to change. In times of difficulty, we stick to our mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus and to help people in his name without discrimination. We are working every day to take care of the needs of our community,” stated Major Donald Tekautz, Salvation Army Baton Rouge Corps Officer.

Alexandria

The Salvation Army of Alexandria includes both a veterans shelter and a general shelter, with both remaining open 24/7 for the duration of the statewide Stay at Home order. Both thrift stores are temporarily closed at this time.

The Alexandria Corps is currently providing dine-in breakfast, lunch, and dinner for all residents. Feedings take place in shifts, with only two individuals seated at a six-foot table and cleanings taking place between each shift.

Breakfast is provided daily to the community and served outside of the shelters. An anonymous donor has purchased 85 kolaches twice a week for the next two months that are being distributed each morning along with a piece of fruit and a cold beverage. The Alexandria Corps is working towards bagging all breakfasts and dinners for transient residents and the general public. Hot meals are provided in shifts, but the shelter does not have the staff and financial resources for sandwiches and lunchmeats.

“In Alexandria, we meet daily as a staff to discuss the continually evolving conditions regarding COVID-19. We are practicing social distancing in every aspect of operations,” stated Alexandria Corps Officer Major Richard Watts.

With the new guidelines of the Stay at Home order, the shelter is encouraging residents to stay indoors. Furniture has been rearranged to practice social distancing, and staff is working toward feeding the public and residents outside of the building via the canteen and outdoor tables.

Monroe

The Salvation Army of Monroe’s shelter, which houses men and women, is currently at capacity with 50 residents. Due to the new mandate, the shelter is now operating 24 hours a day, serving lunch in addition to the breakfast and dinner normally provided. In addition to the cost of supplying enough food to meet the demand for round-the-clock shelter operations, purchasing food is challenging right now because of market shortages. Shelter staff members are making daily trips to grocery stores, but markets are either low on supplies or will not allow bulk purchases. The shelter has only about four day’s worth of meals left at this time. The Monroe Corps’ thrift store also had to shut down because of the Stay at Home order.

“We are now at full capacity and in desperate need of food to sustain our residents. We also need additional funding because more staff is needed to assist with running the shelter 24/7,” stated Captain Jerry Casey, Monroe Corps Officer.


The above is just a sampling, but all Salvation Army shelters throughout the state of Louisiana are operating 24-hours a day, 7-days a week for the duration of the state’s Stay at Home order. 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 in Louisiana. To support The Salvation Army’s COVID-19 response efforts, please give now.

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.

Highlighting Feeding Programs in Mississippi

Hundreds of thousands of meals were provided throughout Mississippi by The Salvation Army in 2019. Those meals include home-cooked meals, home-delivered meals, meals provided at the shelter, mobile canteen meals, holiday meals, and more. The Army’s Mississippi feeding program highlights of the year are the Jackson and Tupelo locations, which collectively distributed 159,326 meals last year. These locations offer several assistance programs including grocery assistance and daily meals for their communities. They also host annual events to raise awareness and funds for their local feeding programs, such as Jackson’s SOUPer Bowl and Tupelo’s Empty Bowls.

Jackson

Corps Officers: Majors Robert & Karen Lyle

The Jackson Corps helps to cure hunger by providing nutritious meals to anyone in need. In addition to addressing the immediate symptoms of food insecurity, the programs are designed to help identify and treat its root cause. This holistic approach to the needs of each person helps move many from “hungry” to “fully healed.”

Jackson provides breakfast and dinner 365 days a year at its Center of Hope as well as lunch on the weekends. The Center of Hope is an adult-only shelter that provides breakfast, dinner, counseling, and access to showers, laundry, and other amenities. Residents are also provided with assistance and tools to find employment.

Meals are also provided twice a week through the senior’s programs and once a week through a youth character development class. Food boxes are also offered to every Angel Tree family each Christmas.

A total of 43,490 meals were served and 2,827 grocery orders were distributed by the Jackson corps in 2019. The location also hosted its 23rd annual SOUPer Bowl fundraiser, the main event focused on raising funds for feeding programs, Sunday, February 2, 2020, at the Sparkman Auditorium at the Mississippi Agricultural Museum.

The event takes place every year on Superbowl Sunday and features soups and desserts donated by over 20 local restaurants and served by volunteer local celebrity servers. Past servers have included many Jackson area television and radio personalities and Miss and Mrs. Mississippi. Each year, attendees can taste as many soups and desserts as they would like and enjoy live music, a silent auction, and games.

Tupelo, MS

Corps Officers: Majors Ray & Whitney Morton

“We are painfully aware that Mississippi is the most food-insecure state,” Major Whitney Morton, Tupelo Corps Officer.

Due to this awareness, Major Morton makes sure the Tupelo location is doing its best to keep the community fed and healthy.

The new Tupelo building, which opened in late 2019, features space for families, who before had to live in separate quarters, and a newly expanded Soup Kitchen.

Tupelo has a daily feeding program that serves 75-100 people at lunch and approximately 50 people for dinner. So that all meals are covered in the Tupelo area, a local church serves a hot breakfast each weekday. These meals are available to anyone in the community, free of charge.

The shelter did not have access to a kitchen during summer 2019, and the canteen had broken down and needed significant repairs. To ensure that no one went hungry in their neighborhood, nearby churches, civic groups, food trucks, and partner agencies took turns serving meals prepared off-site and brought to The Salvation Army’s parking lot.

“It was incredible to see the community in action and the church being the church in the fullest sense,” said Major Whitney Morton, Tupelo Corps Officer.

Tupelo served 115,836 meals, provided 664 grocery orders, and delivered 4,343 meals to individual’s homes. These meals are only possible through community donations of funds, food, and friendship. Many of the volunteers who prepare and serve food have been doing so for years. Each weekend for the last eight years, Stone Soup Ministry partners have made and served Saturday lunches in Tupelo. They line up volunteers, pay for the food, and prepare it in time for lunch.

Tupelo served roughly 3,000 meals with the help of 323 volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. Community members began preparation for the holiday weeks in advance, readying green bean casseroles, fluffy sweet potatoes, and dressing. Charter Tupelo Salvation Army Advisory Board member, JenniLynn Johnson, has organized the Thanksgiving Community meal for fifty years.

The Tupelo Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary hosts the community’s most significant annual spring celebration, Empty Bowls, a fundraising event to raise money for feedings at the shelter, similar to Jackson’s SOUPer Bowl. Last year’s event raised over $45,000. This year’s event is Wednesday, March 4.

Salvation Army Actively Serving/Preparing in New Orleans & Baton Rouge Over Weekend

The Salvation Army’s preparations for Tropical Storm Barry have been in full swing over the weekend, as staff and volunteers worked hard to get ready for the impact of the storm. Barry made landfall as a hurricane early Saturday afternoon near Intracoastal City, Louisiana, and quickly weakened back to tropical storm status. It’s still too early to breathe a collective sigh of relief, however, as the storm system is moving very slowly there is still the possibility of severe flooding. Tropical Storm Barry could potentially dump a tremendous amount of rain on already strained waterways. The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi (ALM) Division stands ready and prepared to serve as needed, with the bulk of activity so far being in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Terry Lightheart, the ALM Division Emergency Disaster Services Director stated, “Preparedness and partnerships are key to an effective disaster relief response and recovery. The Salvation Army seeks to “Do the Most Good” which includes providing much-needed resources to the communities where we serve in a time of need.”

Beginning on Friday, The Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans has been serving three meals a day from their mobile feeding unit (canteen) to local Department of Transportation employees who are stationed at Baby Cakes Field to inspect a fleet of buses on standby for evacuations. Lunch on Friday included sandwiches donated by Subway. The Salvation Army New Orleans Area Command also spent much of the day preparing their Center of Hope shelter for an expected increase of shelter residents as a result of the storm. Employees unloaded pallets of drinks donated by PepsiCo and moved them, along with water and other supplies, to the fourth floor of the shelter to prepare for the possibility of flooding.

The Baton Rouge Corps of The Salvation Army has also been busy in the community and at their shelter, taking full advantage of the lead-time that an event like this gives for preparation. “The good thing about hurricanes is you know they’re coming. You do get to prepare at least,” said Major Donald Tekautz, Baton Rouge Salvation Army Corps Officer. At the request of the Cajun Navy on Thursday, the Baton Rouge Salvation Army provided hydration at one of the main sandbagging locations in town. They also helped to fill sandbags and even sent Salvation Army volunteers to drop off sandbags to elderly residents who otherwise would not have been able to get them. The Baton Rouge Corps continued to help with sandbagging efforts on Friday and Saturday. The Salvation Army shelter in Baton Rouge was also a hub of storm prep over the weekend, with employees stocking the warehouse with disaster relief items such as bottled water, clean up kits, cots, and personal hygiene kits. Extra food was also put in place in the shelter kitchen in anticipation of a storm-related surge in shelter occupancy.

Multiple Feeding Units Respond To Ruston Tornado

Ruston, LA (April 26, 2019) — The Salvation Army has deployed three mobile feeding units to Ruston after a tornado ripped through that community yesterday morning, resulting in a considerable amount of debris from damaged commercial buildings, residential homes, and downed powerlines and trees. The city is home to Louisiana Tech which has a student population of approximately 12,000. The school experienced damage to its field house and a significant amount of debris scattered around campus.

In the aftermath of the storm, debris removal teams are in force to help bring some normalcy back to the community. The three Salvation Army mobile feeding units from Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport will also be out in force today to provide meals, snacks and hydration to affected residents and debris removal teams. Captain Jerome “Jerry” Casey of the Monroe Corps is serving as Incident Commander and has been on the scene with the Monroe unit since early yesterday. He stated, “We’re meeting a lot of grateful people and they’re glad that we’re here. Some of them don’t understand why this happened. So we’re doing some spiritual nourishing as well as physical.” said Captain Casey. “There’s a community that’s hit, there’s a school that’s hit, there’s businesses that’s hit. So, we’re serving a lot of people in different situations,” he said.

Yesterday, The Salvation Army provided 160 meals, 160 drinks, and 250 snacks to tornado survivors in Ruston. The Salvation Army’s service to the Ruston community continues today.

Transition to Long-Term Recovery After Alabama Tornado Outbreak

Annabelle Tsui

Lee County, Alabama (March 25, 2019)— The Salvation Army’s emergency response to the Lee County tornado outbreak of March 3, 2019, has transitioned to the long-term recovery phase. After serving from day one of the tornado outbreak—providing food, hydration, and emotional and spiritual care to tornado survivors, first responders, and volunteers—The Salvation Army is continuing to serve affected residents through partnerships with local emergency management and the Lee County Long-Term Coalition.

The Coalition meets to identify unmet needs and determine how the resources of volunteer agencies can be best utilized to meet the continued or on-going needs of the affected communities. Thus far, The Salvation Army has participated and contributed to the recovery by ensuring that survivors have food, household goods and hygiene items.  “In partnership with other community organizations, we will continue receiving tornado survivors to address their needs,” said Annabelle Tsui, Salvation Army Lee County Service Center Director. “It is truly blessing to witness wounded hearts and communities being mended through the volunteer efforts of The Salvation Army and many other partner organizations,” she continued.

To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.

President Trump Visits Tornado Ravaged Lee County & The Salvation Army Continues to Serve

Beauregard, AL (March 8, 2019)— President Trump toured the tornado ravaged Beauregard community on Friday, and The Salvation Army was on hand, ready to serve survivors, volunteers, and work crews. The level of security required for a presidential visit meant that the highly secured disaster area was locked down tight until the president concluded his visit, but The Salvation Army was on the scene—ready and eager to get back into the area and back to helping the people.

As soon as the area was cleared for those granted access there, which still isn’t open to the general public, The Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) was in high gear, grilling hamburgers, hotdogs, and chicken for the people doing the massive ongoing cleanup effort. “Some of the people that we served said that it was just what they needed. That it was a godsend because God knows exactly what to send at the right time. We were there to fill that need,” said Lieutenant Bryan Farrington, who was working at the canteen as soon as people were allowed back into the area.

“I think it’s wonderful because I thought I was about to starve to death,” said Eric Bush, who took a break to eat a burger from the canteen. Eric is volunteering to help a friend, using his tractor to remove limbs from what’s left of his friend’s home. “It is awesome to see the presence of The Salvation Army helping feed people, and everybody just here to work, to try to pitch in and make a difference. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing—if you’re cooking hamburgers or moving limbs or picking up trash—it takes everybody,” Eric added.

As the weekend approaches, with Sunday marking one week since lives in this community were changed forever, emotional and spiritual care was again the greatest need. “It was good to be able to love on the people who were most affected by the storm and to hear their stories. To be able to share God’s love, to help them smile for a minute, to relieve some of the stress and strain. Words can’t describe what you actually see there, but it’s very rewarding to have an impact, to brighten their day for a moment and encourage somebody while they’re going through the midst of their trials,” said Lt. Farrington.

“This may seem impossible, but through faith it is possible. Through faith all things are possible,” said Napoleon Darby, resident of the hardest-hit area of Lee County. Napoleon’s home is destroyed. His is a tight-knit community with mostly family members as neighbors, and some members of his family didn’t survive the storm. There‘s a distinct heaviness in the air, and you can hear the deep pain in his quiet voice, but he refuses to let himself sink into despair. He’s choosing to focus on the good. Napoleon met President Trump on his tour of the area Friday, and it left a positive impression on him. “I shook his hand and talked to him, shook his wife’s hand,” Napoleon said.

Of his visit with Salvation Army officers on the same day he met the president, Napoleon says, “This is a testament that there are lots of nice people that care about people in the world. It’s easy to concentrate on the hate in the world but when you get exposed to the love in the world you have to lean more towards that.”

Emotional & Spiritual Care Essential Aspect of Tornado Response in Beauregard, AL

Beauregard, AL (March 8, 2019)— An exhaustive search and rescue effort after Sunday’s deadly EF-4 tornado that caused a reported 23 fatalities in Lee County ended on Wednesday, March 4, 2019, and homeowners and volunteer/relief agencies were finally allowed into the hardest-hit area of Beauregard. The Salvation Army is serving meals and providing emotional and spiritual care in Beauregard as crews are diligently working on the massive cleanup effort and homeowners are scouring the wreckage for anything they can save. With total devastation as far as the eye can see, emotions are raw and the emotional and spiritual care component of The Salvation Army’s service fills a great need. “I couldn’t ask for a more awesome person to come sit with us and pray with us yesterday, that meant the world to us, and there are no words,” said Janet Baugh, a Beauregard resident who found comfort and encouragement in a visit from Major Bradley Caldwell on Wednesday. Major Caldwell made sure to stop by again on Thursday to check on Janet and make sure she was doing well. Despite the hardships, she seemed to be filled with hope and a sense of purpose and determination to make it through this difficult time.

Lieutenant Bryan Farrington paused his duties at the canteen (mobile feeding unit) to pray with Shanikia Buchannon, a Beauregard resident whose joy about her upcoming wedding is now laced with concern for her friends and neighbors. “I just thank God that my family was safe, but my heart is hurting for my friends. I have two close friends, even one of my friends who is in my wedding, she lost everything. And the other one lost everything plus a child, so I can only imagine what they’re going through,” Shanikia said. “For Salvation Army to pray for me, it really means a lot. I’m a praying woman and I know prayer changes things,” Shanikia added.

The Salvation Army will continue to serve in Beauregard again today—providing physical refreshment through serving meals and drinks, and emotional and spiritual nourishment by lending a compassionate ear to listen, shoulder to cry on, or sincere prayer for anyone in need. To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,995 meals, 1,439 drinks, 1,573 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 146 individuals in response to the devastaing Lee County tornado.

To donate to The Salvation Army’s tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.

Serving Lee County Volunteers

Smiths Station, AL (March 7, 2019)— The Salvation Army continues to be a light of help and hope for those affected by the recent devastating Southeast Alabama tornadoes. On Wednesday, March 6, that help took the form of setting up a canteen (mobile feeding unit) at the Lee County Emergency Management Agency’s Volunteer Reception Center that has been established at Smiths Station Baptist Church. Those wishing to volunteer with the county can drop into the center, receive training and an assignment, and head out to do their volunteer work. The Salvation Army is on hand to provide meals, beverages and snacks to those volunteers, and in many cases, to the people the volunteers are heading out to serve.

“I’m just very grateful the tornado hit half a mile from my home in two different directions. It went over my house. I’m very grateful to the Lord that I didn’t get hurt, and I just want to help those that are,” said Yvette Greene, a county volunteer who loaded up her car with meals from The Salvation Army canteen to share with those already in the field. Another volunteer, Tricia Harm, mother of seven, brought four of her children who are old enough to volunteer to the center on Wednesday, to serve those hurting in their community. Tricia and her teenage children came to The Salvation Army canteen for lunch before heading out to their volunteer assignment. “We are volunteering to help clean up, because it’s our town. We’re a military family, but it’s our town. The kids wanted to help and this is what we can do, so this is what we’ll do,” said Tricia.

The Salvation Army is proud to provide for tornado survivors and those who are volunteering to serve their hurting neighbors. To date, The Salvation Army has provided 1,495 meals, 619 drinks, 1,143 snacks, and emotional and spiritual care to 71 individuals. To donate to tornado relief efforts, go to helpsalvationarmy.org.