Chattanooga talks turkey to families, awards complete Thanksgiving meals

Chattanooga talks turkey to families, awards complete Thanksgiving meals

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army in Chattanooga, Tennessee, made a generous offer to families in its “2 Generation TN Home” program: The makings of a complete Thanksgiving dinner, for free, simply by participating in a Zoom meeting on preparing the feast.

Besides providing the ingredients included in the dinner made in an instructional video, and instilling know-how and confidence, the initiative “is a chance for everyone to meet and interact with each other,” said Leah Smith, program manager for the Chattanooga Area Command. 

Funded by the Tennessee Department of Human Services, 2 Generation TN Home is a two-generation approach to help families escape the cycle of poverty through education of parents and children, and employment, social capital and health and well-being. 

The Thanksgiving video idea came out of a brainstorming session with staff.

“I have a very creative team,” Smith said. “There’s a small group of us – I’m the program manager, and we have two family coaches and an intern – and at a staff meeting, we came up with the idea of doing something hands-on. Sometimes, we need help in the kitchen, someone to show us what to do.”

Knowing many households are in the same situation – most everyone wants to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families, but not everyone has an older relative who can pass on the cooking skills – the group decided to pair off to record videos of them preparing dinner. 

Family coach Monica Luithle and her husband Mike Luithle cooked the turkey; family coach Jackie Starr and her mother Sergeant Pam Starr, administrator of the Brunswick, Georgia, Corps, made mashed potatoes, gravy and stuffing; and Smith and intern India Jones prepared a green bean casserole and sweet potato souffle.

Using her computer, Smith edited the raw videos into a production of about 60 minutes. The finished videos were part of a Zoom meeting Sunday evening, Nov. 15; links to the videos were posted to the 2GTN Facebook page so people could watch, and review, at their leisure. Participants included 10 families in the 2 Generation program, Smith and her three staffers, and Major Chiffonia Smith, Chattanooga area commander.

“The families who completed the program – that is, completed the how-to videos by participating on Zoom – will get a basket of non-perishable ingredients and a gift card to buy the turkey and other perishables, like milk, eggs and butter, the week before Thanksgiving,” Leah Smith said. 

“Money is tight, and it’s such a big deal for people to be able to cook Thanksgiving dinner for their families. We’re just really excited about it.”


In Georgia, making face masks is a labor of love

In Georgia, making face masks is a labor of love

By: David Ibata

With COVID-19 showing no signs of letting up, reusable face masks are in demand more than ever. A group in Georgia shows everyone can have a part creating the fabric protective coverings, even those who don’t sew.

“There are a lot of fantastic volunteers out there who want to do something other than sit home and worry about this pandemic,” said Gayle Hall, coordinator of the NW Metro Mask Makers. “Some of them like to sew, but we have quite a few very important volunteers who donate fabric and other materials, cut fabric or handle our pickups and deliveries.”

The group recently donated 500 handmade masks to The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command. They’ll be divvied up among The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs, Red Shield Services shelter for homeless residents, and Jonesboro, Georgia, Corps.

“We are trying to help those who have the greatest needs,” Hall said. “Sometimes we receive a need – in this case, The Salvation Army – that’s immediately posted to Facebook, and our volunteers respond.”

NW Metro Mask Makers – so named because it’s based northwest of Atlanta – is a spin-off of the North Alabama Mask Makers, which has created and given away close to 25,000 masks since March.

“After my sister invited me to a mask-making session in Huntsville (Alabama) and learned how to do it, Tiffany Watkins, coordinator of the North Alabama group, said, ‘We’ll set up your Facebook page, and you can start your own group in Georgia,’” Hall said. “They gave us fabric, assistance and everything else we needed to get started.”

That was in July. The group began with no volunteers – but that changed once word got out on Facebook and other social media. Dozens signed up, filling out a form saying where they’re located and if they need fabric, elastic thread and other mask-making goods. They take finished masks to a drop-off location – typically, a bin on someone’s front porch – and pick up any materials they might need.

The group asks for donations of 100 percent cotton, Hall said, as research has shown that’s the most comfortable, breathable and recommended material. They’re made in four sizes: extra small for children ages 3 to 6; small for kids 7 to 12; and medium and large for adults. Sewing one can take 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the maker’s skill and if the mask is fitted or pleated. All are double-layered, some are triple-layered and some have a pocket for a filter and/or nose wire.

NW Metro Mask Makers has donated more than 4,000 masks to postal workers, hospitals, community nonprofits, domestic violence and transitional housing shelters and many others. To view its Facebook page (registration required):

A total of 1,350 masks went to 20 Boys & Girls Clubs in the Atlanta area; that’s where Hall learned about the three clubs operated by The Salvation Army. An inquiry to Donna Roper, volunteer coordinator at Metro Atlanta Command, led to a request for even more masks.

“It’s been great working with Donna,” Hall said. “Today we donated 200 masks to the Marietta (Georgia) Corps. When Donna finds other groups in need, she notifies us. This helps us so much because our goal is to get masks to the people who need them the most.”

Hall credits her team’s hard-working and dedicated volunteers for the organization’s success.

“Many of our volunteers are high risk, or are living with someone who is high risk,” she said. Making masks “is one of the safest volunteer opportunities there is during this pandemic; you don’t have to contact anyone or go into an office. You can do something important and make a difference in the lives of others yet stay safe.”


USA South increasing racial diversity in leadership

USA South increasing racial diversity in leadership

By: Dan Childs

The Salvation Army Southern Territory is taking steps to increase racial and ethnic diversity in leadership. Commissioner Willis Howell has outlined in a video address to the territory how it is moving toward greater diversity in leadership and creating ways for more diverse voices to be heard.

The Southern Territory will have its first African-American divisional commanders when Majors Algerome and Teresa Newsome take command of the Georgia Division on Jan. 1, 2021, succeeding Lt. Colonels William and Debra Mockabee, who are entering honored retirement. The Newsomes, who currently command the Wake County, North Carolina, Area Command, bring spirit-filled leadership and administrative gifts to their new appointment, Commissioner Howell said.

The commissioner also announced the appointment of Captain Jervonne Hinton to the Southern Territory Board of Trustees and Officer Review Board. Captain Hinton has served as the territorial candidates secretary since June 2019.

Additionally, Major Pierre Smith has been appointed a member of the Territorial Candidates Council. Major Smith is the commanding officer of The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Atlanta.

The territorial commander said that as the territory increases its racial and ethnic diversity, it is getting the right people into the right places and more effectively matching gifts with needs.

“Ground is being gained,” he said. “Changes are happening in the Southern Territory. It isn’t by any means an end; rather, it is a beginning.”

Racial justice and ethnic equality are receiving a higher profile in other ways, too. At a racial justice and equity summit in September, the Territorial Executive Council heard speakers from the Center for Biblical Unity as well as George Yancey, a professor at Baylor University and author of “Beyond Racial Gridlock.” The TEC invited key THQ department heads and cadets to the summit.

At the national level of The Salvation Army, the National Diversity Equity and Inclusion Commission has met twice and has already begun forwarding recommendations to the Commissioners Conference. The commission includes four officers from the Southern Territory.

Also, Commissioner Howell said that a Territorial Consultative Council on Diversity and Race has been formed; it includes officers and soldiers of color who have been charged with making recommendations to territorial leadership on matters relating to diversity and race.


Captain Roseno takes steps to raise The Salvation Army’s profile in Port Charlotte, Florida

Captain Roseno takes steps to raise Army’s profile in Port Charlotte, Florida

By: Brad Rowland

In late September, Captains Israel and Claudia Roseno, corps officers in Port Charlotte, Florida, began talking about how they could bring awareness and funding to The Salvation Army in the local community. Further discussion led to copious planning and preparation, and on Nov. 5, Captain Israel Roseno set out on a walk of 50 miles and gained the positive attention of the community.

“With COVID-19 and the uncertainty surrounding kettles at one point, we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Captain Israel Roseno said. “We felt that we needed to come up with something outside the box, both to raise some extra money as a buffer and to catch people’s attention in a shared media market. It is sometimes difficult to draw that attention but, in talking to my wife, we came up with the number of 50 and how we could embrace that number. I thought I could walk 50 miles and, from there, we found the 50th day before Christmas in an attempt to raise $50,000. Then, we really went to battle.”

In advance of the walk itself, Captains Roseno stood alongside staff and volunteers with a large to-do list. Tasks included securing a permit from the county with an approved route for the walk, lining up support vehicles to be within one mile at all times and focusing on important fundraising to provide the best possible service to the community.

“We tried to go for new dollars, not for people that were already planning to give to us during the Christmas season,” said Captain Roseno. “If we just mail and talk to current donors, we’re limiting what we’re getting, and people might just give to us once. We wanted to go to a new pool of potential donors, and this was a great opportunity to spread the word about what we’re doing.”

At approximately 4 a.m. local time on Nov. 5, Captain Roseno began his journey, with a young person from the Port Charlotte Corps joining him for the first 27 miles. Along the way, he was supported by first aid, headlined by a corps member that is a registered nurse, and he was joined by Captain Claudia and his family for approximately eight miles.

After nearly 100,000 steps, Captain Roseno crossed the finish line at nearly 10 p.m. local time and with important reflection and appreciation for the journey.

“Now that I look back, it is difficult to grasp that I walked that far,” Captain Roseno said. “It really is hard to imagine. I never thought I wouldn’t make it, but for the last 10 miles, it was really painful. There are advantages to walking in the flat area of Florida, but there was humidity, and that takes a toll in itself. I had to tell myself to slow down near the end, take my time, stop when needed and make sure to change the mentality and make sure I finished.”

Fundraising is ongoing, with donors encouraged to visit to support The Salvation Army’s work in Port Charlotte. The 50-mile journey will also continue to pay dividends, with increased awareness of the mission and the ability to serve while doing the most good.

“We’re very pleased with the results,” said Captain Roseno. “It was great to get people talking about the work of The Salvation Army and make them more aware of us locally. One of the things I kept thinking as I walked was, yes it was painful, but the lives of people we are saving are much more painful on a daily basis. I reminded myself of the challenges people are facing every day and having the discomfort of walking like this isn’t a drop in the bucket of that. I think I now have even a broader appreciation for when people are really struggling. It gives you an extra level of compassion for people that we serve.

“This is an excellent time for people to hear about The Salvation Army’s work. I’m sure there are people in the community that heard of us for the first time, and some of that comes from media attention. We were able to let people know what we do, that we don’t just ring bells, and we are doing a lot to try and help the community. I’ve heard from people that they’ve learned of us, and hopefully that goes beyond them knowing that a crazy guy walked 50 miles before Christmas. The feedback has really been great.”


Savannah Corps wins $500K grant to upgrade Center of Hope

Savannah Corps wins $500K grant to upgrade Center of Hope

By: David Ibata

For a time this year, as the coronavirus outbreak forced many social service agencies into temporary hiatus, The Salvation Army Center of Hope was the only open homeless shelter in Savannah, Georgia.

The city recently rewarded that service to the community with a $500,000 grant that will make possible a top-to-bottom makeover of the Center of Hope with new furniture, kitchen appliances, laundry machines and heating and cooling equipment.

The funding, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, was announced Nov. 12 at an event attended by Salvation Army and city officials and U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.).

“This grant gives us the opportunity to make necessary upgrades to the infrastructure of our Center of Hope and will ensure it runs much more efficiently,” said Major Paul Egan, Savannah Corps officer. “This gift is a huge blessing and will allow us to better serve the increased numbers of individuals who are coming through our doors due to the pandemic.”

Lawrence S. Haskell, director of development and public relations for the corps, said, “At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were the last man standing. The Salvation Army was here every day, dealing with people who needed to be given the best that could be given.”

The Army turned its men’s overnight shelter at the Center of Hope into a 24-hour operation; and, to accommodate families, opened a temporary shelter for women and children at its Bee Road Community Center and Gymnasium. The total number of guests zoomed to 135.

As the crisis eased and other shelters reopened, that figure has fallen to 86. With space freed up and separation possible, all are now staying at the Center of Hope. But the emergency took a toll on the already worn-out facility, which hasn’t been upgraded since the 1980s and is in serious need of repairs.

Besides the shelter, the center houses Salvation Army social services offices; the Pathway of Hope, which aids families seeking to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty; the six-month Work Therapy Rehabilitation Program for people with addiction issues; and free weekly health screenings in partnership with the J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center.

Plans call for renovations to the center’s three large, dormitory-style bathrooms; refurbished day and activity rooms; and new paint, furniture, lockers, sleeping arrangements and bedding for the family quarters. The kitchen will get a new dishwasher and – after two years going without because the corps lacked the funds for repairs – a new walk-in refrigerator and freezer.

Mechanical upgrades will include air conditioners, furnaces, blowers, ductwork and filtration systems. The center also will be getting six, new, commercial clothes washers and dryers. “We always used donated equipment that came out of people’s homes, but that just doesn’t fit the bill for the quantities of laundry we now have,” Haskell said.

And, for the safety of guests and staff, the building will get upgraded security with cameras throughout and a badged entry system.

Major Egan said, “These funds will go a long way in helping us meet the needs of those who come to us as we strive to continue to help change people’s lives for the better.”


Louisville honors a ‘COVID Hero’ at The Salvation Army

Jeremy Warf was nominated for the COVID-19 Philanthropy Hero Award by Kelly Hutchinson, director of development for the Louisville Salvation Army.

Louisville honors a ‘COVID Hero’ at The Salvation Army

By: David Ibata

At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States in March, Jeremy Warf’s first thought was of the homeless residents of Louisville, Kentucky.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was problematic in places people congregate – and that’s what our homeless shelters are,” said Warf, volunteer services director for The Salvation Army in Louisville. “How do we create a safe place for these people and meet their human needs?”

With shelters reducing their capacities to ensure social distancing, Warf alerted the Louisville Emergency Operations Center to the looming crisis – and within three days, he found himself the newly appointed human services branch manager for the city, a full-time, nonpaid position overseeing shelter operations, food distributions and other social services in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“I moved my offices to the EOC full time, six to seven days a week, from March to the end of September,” he said. “Now I’m back at The Salvation Army, but I’m still working part-time with the EOC.”

On National Philanthropy Day, Friday, Nov. 13, the Greater Louisville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored Warf with a 2020 COVID-19 Philanthropy Hero award. This special award, AFP said, recognizes those “who have invested in our great community through philanthropy during this confusing and uncertain time, when non-profits need help more than ever.”

Kelly Hutchinson, director of development for The Salvation Army in Louisville, nominated Warf for the recognition. She said, “Jeremy deserves the award because he identified needs for the homeless in the community very quickly, when COVID first started.”

The homeless population is vulnerable for many reasons, Hutchinson said. Its members typically lack access to health care. Most have multiple “co-morbidities” – combinations of mental illness, high blood pressure, diabetes and other maladies that could make for poor outcomes. Not to mention that, through no fault of their own, they could spread the disease by being on the streets.

“Jeremy went to work at Louisville Metro Hall and convened all the people in our community who work with the homeless,” Hutchinson said. “It was readily identified that with everything shutting down, including restaurants and libraries, there would be no place for the homeless to go, and we didn’t have a day shelter in town that could handle the volume.”

Warf volunteered the former Louisville Male High School, now headquarters of The Salvation Army Louisville Area Command. A 400-bed, 24-hour “Healthy Day Shelter” was set up in its gymnasium. At this facility, still in operation, homeless residents are socially distanced, given masks and hand sanitizer, and fed three meals a day. Guests have cots to sleep on and a shower truck outside to wash up. Family Health Centers, serving the low-income and homeless communities, provide health care.

In the new fiscal year, the Louisville Salvation Army is receiving support from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Louisville Metro budget – needed financial resources to permanently establish and expand on the day shelter in response to the community need.

Warf also worked to create, for homeless persons diagnosed with COVID-19, a 100-bed quarantine and isolation facility in the Joy Center. The Salvation Army warehouse is an Angel Tree staging area during the Christmas holidays but is mostly empty the rest of the year.

“If you were homeless or from a halfway house where you were unable to quarantine and isolate safely, you’d come to our Joy Center,” Warf said. Bedding, a shower trailer and portable bathrooms were brought in.

“We gave our guests three square meals a day, had nurses checking on them daily, and provided spiritual care,” Warf said.  “We did that from March through September. When we had to begin Christmas operations at the Joy Center, the city moved the homeless to a hotel. We’re still providing to them case management; breakfast, lunch and dinner, and spiritual and emotional care.”

Warf, 30, majored in emergency and disaster management in college, served four years in the U.S. Coast Guard, and became involved with The Salvation Army because his wife-to-be, Jill, worked there and encouraged him to look into its EDS operation. He’s been with the Army in Louisville for six years, but he – like everyone else – has never had to deal with a challenge as big as the coronavirus.

Among the lessons learned, Warf said, was the need to ensure basic sanitation for homeless persons living in encampments around the city. The EOC sent hand-washing stations, portable toilets and shower trailers to these camps. “That’s something I certainly believe, maybe as a city, we should offer to these people year-round,” he said.

Another lesson was that many exposed or infected households, told to quarantine for two weeks, didn’t have the money to order groceries and have them brought to their homes. The Salvation Army stepped up and promptly began delivering about 50 food boxes a day, five days a week, to these families for several months. In late September, the city took over food box deliveries; the Louisville Salvation Army continues to provide the boxes.

Asked how he felt about being a COVID-19 Hero, Warf said, “It’s amazing. I definitely didn’t expect it. I feel everybody at the Louisville Command deserves an award, because it’s been a team effort. When COVID came along, everybody was willing to do double duty, to pitch in and help where needed.”


Orlando Salvation Army receives generous matching donation for Christmas

Orlando Salvation Army receives generous matching donation for Christmas

The Christmas Kettle Kickoff for Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County, Florida, took place in the newly renovated Ruth and J.O. Stone Dolphin Complex at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, under the watchful eyes of Winter the Dolphin, the star of the movie Dolphin Tale. It was announced that the Ruth and J.O. Stone Foundation had committed to match dollar-for-dollar all funds raised in the Christmas Kettles in Upper Pinellas County this season, up to $250,000.

This is the largest Kettle Match in the history of the Clearwater and Upper Pinellas Command, and as the corps officer, Major Ted Morris noted, perhaps one of the largest Kettle matches in the country.  During his remarks, Mayor Frank Hibbard, a former advisory board member, spoke of the proclamation he presented to The Salvation Army in recognition of its mission to “Rescue Christmas” for so many during these difficult days.

The director of development for The Salvation Army, Teresa Hibbard, spoke of the similarities between the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and The Salvation Army, in that they both have “Hope,” (referring to Hope the Dolphin), who was rescued along with Winter. She also stated that the mission of the aquarium is to “rescue, rehabilitate and release” marine life, and similar, to the Army’s mission of rescuing those whose lives are in crisis, providing them with the proper resources to move out of their situation and then to release them to live a fulfilled life.

Following the first donation of $20,000 provided by Achieva Credit Union, on cue, Winter the Dolphin swam to the kettle as a symbol of the commencement of the Christmas Kettle season!


The Salvation Army shares joy serving its communities

The Salvation Army shares joy serving its communities

Savannah, Georgia: The Salvation Army in this Atlantic coastal city has opened its Community Center to students attending school “virtually,” by computer, this fall. Classes begin at 7:30 a.m., Monday through Friday; after-school activities also are available to families whose parents might still be at work. “At our Community Center, we are strictly adhering to social distancing guidelines, and PPE (personal protective equipment) regulations are in place for the safety of children and staff,” the corps said in an Oct. 7 Facebook posting. “These programs are available at an affordable cost.”

Knoxville, Tennessee: “Knox Pod” is The Salvation Army’s virtual learning pod for Knoxville students enrolled in digital learning this year. They’re in classrooms at the corps Monday through Friday, with help from staff and students from the University of Tennessee. But Knox Pod is about more than just online schoolwork; it’s an opportunity for fun field trips over fall break. The DEFY Knoxville Trampoline Park gave the group an incredible discount, and Buddy’s Bar-B-Q donated sandwiches and chips for lunch. Another outing took the kids to a putt-putt course, and a third, to Main Event game center. Lunches have been donated by local restaurant partners – in addition to Buddy’s, they include O’Charley’s, Golden Corral and Mellow Mushroom. “Our #KnoxPod has been incredibly blessed with generosity from area businesses to make Fall Break a BLAST,” the Knoxville Command said in a Facebook posting.

Winston-Salem, North Carolina: The Salvation Army surpassed all expectations and raised $2,175 with its Giant Red Kettle event at the Carolina Classic Fair Oct. 1-4. The annual fair, observing social distancing guidelines, turned the event into a “drive-thru fair.” The community turned out, and attendees were able to order food from vendors as they progressed through the circuit and enjoyed virtual entertainment from their cars. Wait times for food became rather lengthy at times, slowing the pace for attendees making their way through, but the wait helped Salvation Army fundraising efforts. A Loose Change Toss into the Giant Red Kettle became an entertaining diversion for patrons as they made their way through the circuit, tossing coins from their cars and sometimes hopping from their cars to get a closer shot. Staff from WBFJ radio helped by walking along the lines of waiting cars with kettles in hand to solicit donations. The Army far exceeded its expectations of raising $400 to 500 over the weekend.

Fairfax, Virginia: The Landmark Corps Praise Team opens with song the very first Potomac Young Adult gathering of the new Salvation Army Potomac Division on Oct. 11. Lt. Colonel Mark Israel brought a message on the theme, “Through It All,” based on Isaiah 41:10 (NIV): “So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Worship through song, testimony, prayer and God’s word was followed by a meal and an epic volleyball tournament. “Thank you to the Landmark Corps young adults for hosting and planning a great night for us all,” the Potomac Division Youth Department posted to Facebook. “Thank you to Lt. Colonel Israel for sharing from God’s Word and those who shared their gifts and talents. We can’t wait for the next one! Mark your calendars for Jan. 11!”

Chattanooga, Tennessee: A volunteer team from Operation: Selfless Service turned out for street outreach day Oct. 3 at the McCallie Avenue Corps to prepare 150 care packages for homeless residents. In the days leading up to the distribution, the group had a collection drive for food items, such as fruit cups, snack packs and granola bars; and hygiene items including toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant. D’Andre Anderson of Operation: Selfless Service posted to Facebook: “What was one of my takeaways? Being able to find the small victories in the midst of a storm. Being able to see these individuals in their space and making the best of what they had really opened my eyes to know that there is so much work to be done in Chattanooga. I am thankful for The Salvation Army of Chattanooga for facilitating and given us a chance to make this event happen.”

Davidson County, North Carolina: The Salvation Army of Davidson County, North Carolina, recently received a helping hand from one of its neighbors. Budget Blinds of Lexington and Salisbury, North Carolina, presented a gift of $5,000 to Lieutenants Wayne and Claudia Meads and the Army to be used to help meet needs in the area in this difficult year.

Norfolk, Virginia: A group from the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) donated their time to assist with the upkeep and beautification of H.O.P.E. Village, a residential housing program operated by The Salvation Army’s Hampton Roads, Virginia, Area Command. The program offers a full spectrum of supportive services to homeless women and women with children.

Newnan, Georgia: The staff of The Salvation Army Service Center wears pink on Oct. 14 in recognition that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  “We want to remember those that have lost loved ones and those that are survivors,” according to a center’s Facebook page. Stephanie Rohling from Piedmont Newnan Oncology (far left) spoke that morning at the center about breast cancer.


Parkersburg Salvation Army raises profile with kettle-painting contest

Parkersburg Salvation Army raises profile with kettle-painting contest

By: David Ibata

With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, people wary of venturing outside and the fall-off in traffic to local retailers, The Salvation Army in Parkersburg, West Virginia – like many other corps – faces a challenging Red Kettle campaign season. How to get people excited and engaged?

Majors Patrick and Carey Richmond, corps officers, took inspiration from an innovation introduced by Majors Brooks and Lori Gilliam several years ago at the Charleston, West Virginia, Corps: a kettle-painting contest, with the help of local artists and businesses.

“They actually offered their painted kettles to us,” Major Patrick said. “It just seemed like an excellent fit. We’re trying our very best to come up with new avenues of revenue … something the community can grasp onto and call their own.”

Parkersburg’s “Season of Hope” campaign invites individuals and businesses to pay $100 each to sponsor one of 15 kettles, to be decorated by local artists and volunteers. The Watering Can Art Studio of Vienna, West Virginia, is coordinating the effort.

“I mentioned the idea to the Watering Can’s owner” – she goes by “M.J.,” just the initials – “and she took the idea and ran with it,” Major Patrick said. “M.J. also secured all the sponsors, so she’s already raised $1,500 without us doing anything.”

Salvation Army corps in Charleston and Marietta, Ohio, contributed old-style metal kettles (the plastic ones currently in use don’t take kindly to paint). The receptacles then went to West Virginia University at Parkersburg to be prepped.

“They sandblasted them for us,” Major Patrick said. “Now they’re clean, they look brand new, and they have no red on them.”

The kettles are at the Watering Can, ready for paint. A local shopping center, the Grand Central Mall, has agreed to put them on display for five days starting on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1.

Mall shoppers will be able to “vote” for a particular kettle by putting money into it. The kettles will be opened Saturday, Dec. 5, and the one with the most giving will be declared Best Kettle winner on Facebook and other social media. Each kettle then will go to its sponsor to be placed in an office, store or other location, receiving contributions the rest of the Christmas holiday season.

Major Patrick said he hopes the artists painting the kettles can touch on what The Salvation Army does in Parkersburg “so our community recognizes that what we do at Christmas helps us everything else we do through the year – emergency shelter, feeding kitchen, social services, all of it.”

“No. 1, this will raise awareness of us being a beacon of hope in the Parkersburg area and the six counties we serve. We also hope it will raise more hearts and hands as volunteers for The Salvation Army throughout the year. And obviously, financially, we hope this will offset the loss of revenues this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”


Faith and family combine to keep shelter families warm

Faith and family combine to keep shelter families warm

By: Bob Campbell

Sarah Greer is a typical 16-year-old. She’s a student at Forbush High School in Yadkin County, North Carolina, dealing with the challenges of distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. On second thought, maybe she’s not so typical.

With many teens around her concerned with the latest Tik Tok sensation or who’s cool and who’s not, Sarah was thinking of her family. Her sister Hallie was about to turn 1 and Sarah was sad because her grandfather, her Papaw, who had passed away five years ago, would not be there to celebrate her sister.

Then Sarah had an idea and posted to her Facebook page. “I wanted to do something to honor him and Hallie at the same time,” she said. “I didn’t really tell anyone at the beginning of this year, but to honor him on the day he passed away, I went and bought $60 worth of blankets and gave them to the Salvation Army Center of Hope, the only family shelter in Forsyth County. If Papaw was here, I’m sure he would spend at least $60 on Hallie. I decided that I would use the $60 and go buy blankets and give them to Salvation Army on Hallie‘s birthday. Even though she never met him here on Earth, I want her to know what a sweet person he was. He would do the same thing if he were still here, I’m sure of it.

She still felt, however, that she wanted to do more. She called her father and her maternal grandfather, and they agreed to match up to $150 of any donations she could raise. She returned to her Facebook page and made the appeal, noting the matching pledge.

The response Sarah received was wonderful. The next day she posted again, “Wow, wow, wow!! In 24 short hours I’ve had quite a few kind people donate for blankets that will be given to the homeless shelter!! I’ve already received $85 and since we’re matching everything, that’s $170 plus the original $60! Y’all!! That’s $230 for blankets already! I’m absolutely shocked and overwhelmed with excitement and thankfulness. I love being a part of such a wonderful community!! This wouldn’t be possible without all of YOU!”

That wasn’t the end. Sarah’s then posted, “I just can’t believe this! As of this morning, we’re already up to $320 total for blankets to give to the homeless shelter!!! I can’t thank you all enough for the support, shares, people who have given money so far, and the people praying over this. God is so good, giving all the glory to him. ‘Don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need’ Hebrews 13:16.

Sarah’s concluding post read, “Yesterday was the day I took 291 blankets to the homeless shelter. The amount of money spent on the blankets (money everyone helped raise) was $637.48!!!! THANK YOU JESUS!!!! I can’t say thank you enough to each and every single one of you. Thank you if you were able to give money, if you prayed about this, if you donated blankets to put with the rest, and all the people who shared and told others about it. It was such a blessing to have a small part in such a big thing. So many people will be kept warm as it’s getting colder. A small thing to us could be life-changing to others.

“Talking to the workers at The Salvation Army yesterday and hearing some of the saddest stories truly made me have a new perspective. I hope as Hallie grows up she can see that all of this was done in honor of her and Papaw. Also to show a great act of kindness to people who are going through tough times. I pray one day she’ll want to take part in this on her birthday. I plan on doing this every year from now on for the exact same reasons. Thank you again to everyone, it’s truly amazing what our community can do. I will never forget this! In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’ Acts 20:35.”