(Fort Myers, Fla.) Sept. 16, 2017 – Lamar Aplin could be doing a lot of things on a stifling Saturday afternoon in southwest Florida. The 70-year Dothan, Alabama, retiree chose to be a days’ drive from home, checking his Salvation Army canteen and readying for dinner service in Lee county. Alpin has been serving on a disaster canteen since he retired from his insurance job more than 15 years ago.
“Alabama tornadoes, Gustav, Katrina, Rita…,” he said as he began to list off his disaster experience. “I’m retired and I want to serve.”
In season, retirees like Alpin can make up to half of a volunteer base at many Salvation Amy Corps or Area Commands in Florida. Seniors often volunteer for Christmas but can be a rarity during disasters given the strenuous activity.
“I’ve got a little arthritis in my knees but that’s it,” said James Bigam, 69.
Bigam said he’s looking forward to serving the community. “There’s a difference between a job and serving,” Bigam said. “My job was in the U.S. Army and then as a civilian for the Army. Volunteering for The Salvation Army isn’t a job. We’re providing a service.”
Bigam is a newly minted Salvation Army volunteer. He saw a story on the local news a few weeks ago and his wife told him to sign up.
“I think there were 15 of us in that initial meeting with the Captains,” he said. “A few of us took the classes and now I’m here.”
He and a canteen crew served Florida evacuees in Dothan. A few days later he received a call to come to Florida.
“When you’re retired, every day is a Saturday so why not use it to help people,” he said. “Plus, my wife said I needed to volunteer.”
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for more than 135 years in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). The Salvation Army has served survivors of every major national disaster since 1900. The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. During emergency disasters, 100 percent of designated gifts are used to support specific relief efforts. For more information, go to www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.