Bringing Smiles Back: One Little Girl at a Time

Naples, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2017)  – There are many things a kindergartner could be doing on a September evening – playing with dolls, riding her bike, chasing the ice cream truck, even, practicing her ABCs. Translating for her mother who wants to know if she is allowed to get food from The Salvation Army canteen should not be one of those things.  Yet, this was what precious, six-year-old Carmen found herself doing, while her anxious mom held her five-month-old sister nearby. 

“Of course you can have something to eat,” said Nancy, The Salvation Army volunteer, as she helped Carmen’s mother gather hot meals, shelf stable meals, fruit, and drinks for her family.  

Nancy then graciously helped the family pile the food on the baby’s stroller because that was their only means of transportation. 

Carmen, struggling to find the right English word, explained the family had been without power since the storm, and they were scared and hungry. 

Carmen shared she was “very scared” when the storm came through the area.  Her mother added that Carmen had not been herself the last couple of days.  She is afraid to go outside, even though it is hot inside their home.  She thinks it is because she thinks another storm will come.

“The first time I saw her excited in days was when she saw your truck.  She pulled my shirt and pointed towards it,” her mother explained.  Then, with tears welling up in her eyes, she added, “She told me, ‘Mommy, they will give us food!’” 

Yes, Carmen, you can be assured The Salvation Army will make sure you eat. The Salvation Army is committed to ensuring those who are the most vulnerable in Collier county have hot food, cold drinks, and hope. This is the sacred commitment. 

As, the family walked away, with Carmen pushing the stroller and her mother carrying her sister, they both glanced back at the canteen.  Carmen simply smiled and shyly waved.  Her mother, still crying, said, “Gracias, le diste a mi hija su sonrisa.”

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 ( 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 or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.

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