social services

Salvation Army benefits greatly from Empty Bowls Luncheon

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) – Polly Smith with The Salvation Army in Tupelo cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner there daily to feed 150 people or so.

Smith said, “I serve chicken dressing, greens, cabbage, barbecue, and anything just about.”

Smith uses food that’s been both donated and bought using donations.

Major Sue Dorman says fund raisers like the recent Empty Bowls Luncheon help keep their kitchen and other services going.

Dorman said, “Fifteen dollars can feed our lodge and a person staying overnight for a day.”

The lodge that’s made for 19 currently houses about 25 people nightly.

The food pantry shelves also are able to stay stocked through the annual Empty Bowls donation.

Dorman said, “Our founder, William Booth, had a little slogan: Soup, Soap and Salvation. You feed them, clean them, and then you can talk to them about Christ. Someone hungry is not going to listen to you.”

Back to the kitchen, that’s exactly why Polly Smith says she tries to make the best meal she can for those who depend on it daily.

Smith said, “I try my best to be in a good mood so they can be in a good mood. There are a lot of people who come in who are in a situation. They’re still happy and that makes me happy.”

Because of the generosity of so many during events like Empty Bowls, The Salvation Army says it’s working to make sure no one has to face a day hungry.

Reported by: Robert Byers


Elizabeth Smart: ‘I found something worth living for’

elizabeth smartBy Alex Branch

FORT WORTH — Inside a tent pitched on a Utah mountainside, moments after she was sexually assaulted by her kidnapper, Elizabeth Smart was overwhelmed by shame.

Just 14 and abducted hours earlier from her bedroom, she wondered if anyone would even search for her if they knew what had just happened.

Stories she had seen on the television news about kidnapped and murdered children flashed through her head and she wished she “was in heaven with them.”

“I remember lying on the floor of that tent feeling so worthless, crushed,” Smart told an audience at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel during the Salvation Army annual luncheon Wednesday. “I just didn’t feel that I could ever be worth anything.”

But Smart, whose abduction and rescue a decade ago captivated the nation, said she overcame that feeling with memories of her family’s love. She became determined to see them again, a sense of purpose that she hoped Salvation Army clients would remember as they battle their adversities.

“Because I found something worth living for, I was able to decide that no matter what happened, I would survive,” said Smart, who is now 25. “No matter what I had to face, I would do it as long as it was within my power. Somehow, I would see my family again.”

Smart’s speech was the main feature at the Salvation’s Army’s Doing the Most Good luncheon. The event raises money for Salvation Army programs, such as homeless prevention, addiction treatment, food pantries and supportive housing.

Smart’s abduction June 5, 2002, is well-known. Brian David Mitchell, a homeless street preacher, broke into her family’s Utah home while everyone slept, took her into the nearby mountains, sexually assaulted her and held her captive for nine months.

Police rescued Smart nine months later. Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison.

His wife, who helped keep Smart captive, was sentenced to 15 years.

Smart, who married 14 months ago, has since helped promote legislation to prevent abductions. She also speaks to recovery organizations nationwide.

On Wednesday, she described growing up with strict but loving parents and brothers who teased her.

The night she was kidnapped she had fallen asleep as usual in the bedroom she shared with her sister.

She awoke to a knife pressed to her neck and the sounds of a man’s voice.

Smart said she had always been warned not to talk to strangers, never get into their cars or help them look for lost puppies.

“No one ever told me what to do if someone broke in and had me at knifepoint,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it was real.”

Moving forward

Smart recounted being forced to walk up the mountain behind her home, crawling through a narrow ravine and finally reaching a remote encampment where Mitchell’s wife waited. At one point she recalled telling Mitchell that, if his intent was to rape and murder her, to just do it now.

“I’m not going to do that. Yet …” he replied, smiling.

During the next nine months, Smart was forced to travel to California and eventually back to Utah with her captors. She recalled once getting a meal at a Salvation Army shelter when Mitchell’s group had no food. And she recounted the events of March 12, 2003, the day she was rescued by police and reunited with her parents.

“I remember thinking if anyone ever asks me how to describe this moment I can in one word: Heaven,” she said. “No one had ever looked so beautiful to me as my mom did.”

During her recovery, her mother gave her advice that she followed. She told Smart that her kidnapper was evil and what he did to her was wicked.

“Then she said ‘The best punishment you could give [Mitchell] is be happy, move forward with your life and to do exactly what you want to do,’” Smart said. “‘Because it would be very easy to live in the past, to dwell on what happened to you. But that would allow him to take more of your life.’

“She was so right. … You’re not helping yourself out by holding on to the pain and the misery. You have to move forward.”

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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Salvation Army unveils new canteen in Joplin

By Ryan Richardson Joplin Globe Staff Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Members of the Salvation Army of Joplin rolled out a new $100,000 mobile canteen Tuesday that will help provide disaster relief to area residents and could be used for future relief efforts across the country.

The mobile canteen is equipped to serve 1,500 meals per day and will be stationed in Joplin. In the past, the Joplin Salvation Army shared a canteen with Springfield and Branson.

During the dedication for the vehicle, Salvation Army Lt. James Curry said that the vehicle will help increase the reach of the Joplin Salvation Army.

“When the May 22 tornado hit Joplin, Pittsburg’s unit showed up quickly without being called in that night,” Curry said. “That’s the kind of reach that we want to have in other communities. We want a unit to be able to help not only in disasters, but to be able to feed and help those who are hungry. This vehicle gives us that opportunity.”

Joplin’s canteen will join a fleet of 14 other mobile canteens stationed in Missouri. Each canteen is equipped with two microwaves that can be converted in to full-size ranges, a refrigerator, a three-sink cleaning area and several stacks of warming trays for hot meals. There is also a powered generator, propane access and water on the truck.

“We can load a hot meal in here and six hours later and they can still be ready to roll out,” Curry said. “Those can be ready to be rolled out while we are cooking other meals here. We’re equipped to be full service here to get those meals out to people in their time of need.”

During the May 22, 2011 tornado, the Salvation Army served more than 10,000 meals in a two-week period following the storm. City officials celebrated the efforts of the Salvation Army since the tornado and commemorated the dedication of the canteen with a ribbon cutting ceremony by the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Pro Tem Bill Scearce spoke on behalf of the city.

“Anything that helps the Salvation Army do more is something that can benefit every community they are in,” Scearce said. “I’m still amazed by what they have done and what they will do.”

The mobile unit was donated by Beacon Roofing Supply — which operates in Joplin as RSM Supply — as a continued partnership with the Salvation Army over the past six years. Peter Lippert, who represented Beacon, said it was the third mobile canteen that the company has donated.

“Our company has similar values as the Salvation Army and that is why we have continued to work with them in communities across the country,” Lippert said. “We value our employees and their families and it is our goal to take keep their values and needs taken care of. That is how the Salvation Army treats their communities. They are always there for them during times of need.”

Salvation Army Advisory Board member Dave Evans said that the van will be an asset to the surrounding area because of the shorter response time to Jasper County residents.

“It is a tremendous asset to us to have this here because Jasper County has the highest annual average of tornadoes,” Evans said. “We can be on the ground and responding as quickly as possible to people in our own backyard. This is possible because of donations and we’re happy to be here to celebrate what Beacon Roofing could with us today.”