Carolinas Youth Department honors achievements in virtual awards presentation

Carolinas Youth Department honors achievements in virtual awards presentation

By: Brad Rowland

Through the power of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other virtual outlets, Salvation Army officers and employees are able to effectively communicate and interact with soldiers, volunteers and youth even during the challenging days plagued by COVID-19. In the North and South Carolina Division, one fallout of the pandemic is the cancellation of youth councils, an event that many look forward to each year.

While the weekend is packed with excitement, fellowship and worship, youth councils also brings an opportunity for the divisional staff to hand out awards to both young people and leaders for their spectacular achievements during the year. In order to execute that vision under different circumstances, the NSC Youth Department used inspiration from a popular web series and put their own twist on it, creating a virtual awards ceremony featuring upscale attire and tangible production value.

“We were kind of inspired by John Krasinki’s ‘Some Good News’ broadcasts that he’s been doing, and of course they are very popular,” said Daynes Crouch, divisional Christian education director. “One of the editions had a virtual senior prom with people all dressed up, and (divisional creative arts director) Caitlin Allen took it from there with some of the logistics and the fancier aspects to make it special for our youth.”

The ceremony was pre-recorded through Zoom in order to present it in well-edited, polished fashion. However, the entire gathering was recorded while each staff member and officer was operating from their own home, with the exception of a small handful of awards that were actually hand-delivered and captured on video for sharing within the ceremony itself.

“We got some great feedback and I think our kids really enjoyed the opportunity to kind of escape, be recognized and have their friends and leaders be recognized,” Crouch said. “One of my favorite examples is a filmed reaction by one of our youth leaders that received an award. She was so shocked when we read her name and it was very sweet to see.”

In addition to this virtual awards presentation, the divisional team is reaching out to its youth in various ways, ranging from young adult gatherings on Zoom to newsletters, opportunities for music and arts engagement through virtual performances, and daily devotionals shared through social media channels. Still, this singular touch was meaningful to many in the division, with the chance to “attend” a high-end ceremony, all from the comfort of home.

“I think, with everything happening around us, awards weren’t necessarily on everyone’s mind, but it was a nice recognition to put out there for people,” said Crouch. “We wanted to celebrate people and let them know they aren’t forgotten, even if we can’t fully do it in person the way we might want. Overall, it was a really nice way to show appreciation for the youth in our division.”

The full awards ceremony can be viewed below.


Healthcare heroes ministered to by prayer warrior

Healthcare heroes ministered to by prayer warrior

By: Major Frank Duracher

During this COVID-19 pandemic, doctors, nurses and paramedics have emerged as dauntless heroes, risking their own health and that of their families. So, it may be easy to forget that they are human too – very fearful and in need of physical, emotional and spiritual comfort.

Major Myrtle Kitchen, a retired officer and longtime volunteer for The Salvation Army in Greenville, South Carolina, apparently realized that fact when paramedics were called to her home in response to symptoms of high blood pressure and the onset of a possible stroke.

“I could see the fear in their eyes,” Major Kitchen said. “This was in the first days of social distancing, and our state had just gone into lockdown. Here I am, a high-risk candidate for the virus for several health reasons, and no one was really aware of what all this meant.”

The major says that while the paramedics were wearing masks and gloves for their protection, their eyes betrayed their fear of the unknown.

“So, I witnessed to them” even while the paramedics were preparing her for transport in the ambulance.

Arriving at the emergency room, Major Kitchen was met by an eerie sight: this was the first day of shutdown for non-emergency treatments, and the entire ER was dark, save for the nurses’ station and one trauma bay prepared to treat her.

She later learned she was the first patient seen in that hospital after the governor’s statewide order went into effect.

“A doctor and a nurse came into my room to take care of me,” she said, “as the paramedics were about to leave.”

Still seeing the fear in their eyes, now as well as the doctor and nurse, Major Kitchen asked if she could pray with the little group before the paramedics left.

“Please do,” they all agreed.

“I started praying from God’s Word, for our nation, for a cure of this virus and a great awakening of God’s people.”

As she prayed, she rebuked the spirit of fear that seemed so strong over the hospital, and that God would be with these dedicated, compassionate workers who believed in the saving of lives – even at the risk of their own and their family’s health.

“When I opened my eyes after finishing my prayer, I was a bit stunned to see over a dozen medical personnel had joined us in that curtained room to be blessed by this prayer,” she said, still amazed.

“A doctor at the foot of my bed was even holding onto the toes of my shoes, praying her heart out!”

Tests were soon done, eliminating a stroke but showing that her high blood pressure was dangerously high. She was transported to the ICU located on the third floor.

“The scene in the ICU can only be described as chaotic,” she said. “Everyone was running around with the same fear in their eyes I had been noticing, so during the four days I was there I prayed over each one who had a part in treating me.”

Incredibly, she recalled, no one responded negatively when she offered to pray for them and their family!

“They are the real heroes during this crisis, and we can all be prayer warriors on their behalf.”


The Salvation Army Serves First Responders Battling Wildfire in Southwest Florida

NAPLES, FL (May 15, 2020) – The Salvation Army is responding to a local wildfire by providing hydration, snacks, lunch, and dinner to approximately 250 first responders.

Two wildfires broke out on Wednesday, May 13th in the Golden Gate community in central Collier County, Florida, west of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

“These are severely dangerous wildfires exhibiting extreme fire behavior, so everyone in the affected area should follow directions from state and local officials,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in an update from the Florida Forest Service. “All residents and travelers should heed evacuation orders and closely monitor the media for updates on the wildfire and the status of I-75 and local roads. We thank our brave local and wildland firefighters for working swiftly to control this wildfire.”

Due to their close proximity, the wildfires are now being reported as one fire, the 36th Avenue SE Fire. As of May 15, the fire is estimated at 8,500 acres and 10% contained.

“It is our privilege to stand alongside these heroes who are working day and night to keep our community safe,” says Corps Officer Captain Ben Bridges. Video updates of The Salvation Army’s service can be found here.

In addition to these efforts, The Salvation Army continues to provide ongoing care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

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About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Tell Me Something Good

Tell Me Something Good

By: Meagan Hofer

We are back again with some stories that will surely brighten your day as we slowly find our new normal. While it can be easy to focus on the negative, there is SO much good happening around us!

Here are just a few stories that have made me smile, and I hope they do the same for you!

Be encouraged friends! This is hard, but you are not alone. God’s got us.


The Salvation Army Midland Food Distribution at Chesterfield Mall and East St. Louis

ST. LOUIS, May 15, 2020 – The Salvation Army, the nation’s largest social services organization with more than 7,600 service locations across the country, is increasing efforts to meet human need. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization has evolved service delivery to ensure that immediate needs of community members, first responders, and government partners are met. 

The Salvation Army Midland Division is working closely with state agencies to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain in regular communication with local emergency management agencies and managers in local communities throughout the Midland Division, which includes Missouri and Southern Illinois. 

The Salvation Army staff, volunteers along with The National Guard will distribute pre-packed food boxes and supplies to the public on 9am-4pm, Saturday, May 16th at the Chesterfield Mall (old Sears location) 291 Chesterfield Center, Chesterfield Mall and the second distribution of food and supplies will happen be 9am-4pm on Saturday, May 23rd at The Salvation Army St. Clair County, East St. Louis Community Center 616 N 16th St., East St. Louis.

This distribution was made possible by The COVID-19 Regional Response Fund, Edgewell Personal Care, Emerson, St. Louis Community Foundation, Tarlton, The Staenberg Group and the United Way.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Salvation Army serves first responders in Florida wildfires

Salvation Army serves first responders in Florida wildfires

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army in Florida mobilized in response to widely separated wildfires, in Collier County in the southwest part of the state, and in the Florida Panhandle.

The Naples Command provided hydration, snacks, lunch and dinner to about 250 first responders in Collier County. The 22nd Avenue and 36th Avenue fires combined are burning 4,000 acres, Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services reported.

In the Panhandle, the Pensacola Corps provided lunch, dinner and hydration to responders in the 5 Mile Swamp wildfire. The 2,215-acre blaze destroyed 14 homes and damaged seven others.

The Fort Walton Beach Corps provided snacks and hydration to responders in the Mussett Bayou Wildfire, which destroyed 33 residences and damaged seven others across 343 acres.

More than a dozen wildfires have swept across Florida in the past week. As of Thursday, May 14, the Panhandle fires were 90 percent or more contained, but the Collier County fires were only 0 to 10 percent contained and for a time shut down Interstate 75.

Evacuations have been ordered affecting hundreds of residents.


#FreePlugs: The Salvation Army in France and Belgium Switch On New Campaign

Atlanta, GA: The Salvation Army in France and Belgium has launched a campaign encouraging citizens to provide complimentary access to electricity in order that homeless people – and others in need – can recharge their mobile telephones. During the COVID-19 lockdown, access to charging points in shops, cafes, day centers and other public venues has been curtailed.

David Germain, Communications Director for The Salvation Army in France and Belgium, explains: ‘The consequence is that homeless people can’t remain in touch with their loved ones, or even make an emergency call if they have a problem.’
Named #FreePlugs – after the #FreeHugs movement that was popularized before the introduction of social distancing – the campaign invites people to make a power extension cord safely available at the door or window of their home. This can be done in many settings without infringing guidelines on proximity to others.
‘It may not change the world,’ admits David, ‘But it’s just one way for us to show that The Salvation Army continues to care about people. We can’t hug, but we can plug!’
An eye-catching poster has been designed for participating households to display in their window, and David hopes that the campaign might spread to other countries. ‘We have nothing to lose,’ he says. ‘This is a very low-cost initiative, but it makes the world of difference to a vulnerable person who can be reconnected with the people who are important in their lives. It will be even more powerful if the idea is taken up in other places.’

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International Headquarters

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 23 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

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Salvation Army Week brings a virtual shout-out to Knoxville

Major Sarah Nelson and Captain Dan Nelson deliver doughnuts to first responders as part of Salvation Army Week in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Salvation Army Week brings a virtual shout-out to Knoxville

By: David Ibata

When Major Sarah Nelson and Captain Dan Nelson began planning special events for Salvation Army Week, May 10-17, in Knoxville, Tennessee, they quickly realized they’d have to forego traditional celebrations like an open-air meeting downtown and a cookout for transitional housing clients.

“It became very apparent the events we wanted to hold weren’t going to be possible in light of COVID-19,” Major Nelson said. “It was somewhat challenging but also exciting to figure out how we would celebrate National Salvation Army Week without really coming into physical contact with people.”

The Knoxville Area Command realized it had an opportunity to reach even greater numbers of people through an effective online strategy.

“Our strategy was really to highlight The Salvation Army’s five core values” – Passion, Compassion, Bravery, Uplifting Spirit and Trustworthiness – “and identifying various aspects of our ministry here in Knoxville,” Major Nelson said.

G-Lab Group, the firm that designed the Knoxville Command’s website, helped to secure the domain name “salvationarmy.865” (“865” is Knoxville’s area code). The link leads visitors to the landing page for “National Salvation Army Week: COVID-19 Edition.”

Here, content created for and during the week (like photos, videos and downable assets) can be accessed long after the week is passed – unlike social media postings, as with Facebook, that drop lower and lower on a page as other content gets posted until they effectively disappear.

On Monday, May 11, Disaster Services Day, the Knoxville Command dispatched its mobile feeding unit (canteen) to deliver doughnuts to first responders and posted photos to its website – an example how The Salvation Army helps in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies.

The theme for Tuesday was Men’s Ministry. Soldier Mark Brabson gave a video testimony how his life was radically changed by Jesus Christ. Wednesday, Church Ministry Day, featured a “Salvation Stories” digital newsletter highlighting Knoxville’s various ministries.

For Senior Ministry Thursday, Lucy Love gave a video testimony how her life was transformed when she came to The Salvation Army for help. Youth Ministry Friday offered downloadable coloring pages for children and an invitation to kids to participate in a coloring contest.

Saturday, Camp Ministry Day, had testimonies by Lauren Ekhardt and Destiny Battle about their life-transforming summer experiences at Salvation Army camp; and Sunday, a day to describe the Knoxville Command’s Transitional Housing Ministry, came with a take-away pizza dinner for clients donated by a longtime Knoxville Command partner, Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza.

“One thing that’s not on our schedule for the week is, we have a local restaurant donating food to feed our entire staff on Friday,” Major Nelson said. “We’re building in a staff appreciation component, which is so important right now because our employees have worked so hard for the past eight weeks. It’s appropriate to honor them; in a sense, they too are first responders.”

The novel coronavirus inspired new and creative ways to respond to an unexpected crisis.

“We never would have done this had it not been for COVID,” Major Nelson said. “There’s always a silver lining. This shows us how to do something different and to some degree, in a more effective way.”


‘God’s Promise’ is theme of South’s upcoming online worship services

‘God’s Promise’ is theme of South’s upcoming online worship services

By: Brad Rowland

Church buildings remain closed in many parts of the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many searching for outlets to express themselves through worship. To that end, virtual worship gatherings are emerging in popularity and, beginning on Sunday, May 17, The Salvation Army’s Southern Territory will launch a four-week series of online services aimed at uniting around the overarching theme of “God’s Promise.”

Many corps within the Southern Territory are producing weekly services in similar form, or even visiting virtually on multiple occasions throughout the week. With that in mind, the territory-wide services are not meant as a replacement, but rather a complement to what is already in existence, as well as an option for corps that may desire to utilize the territorial offering as a centerpiece of their online worship.

“We’ve been so pleased and blessed by the dozens of corps across the territory who have prepared online services for their soldiers and communities,” said Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood, territorial program secretary. “We have tried to watch as many of them on Sunday as we could.”

“There were some requests that came to territorial leadership asking if we would consider planning and executing several territorial online services, especially for corps who could not do their own. We thought this was an excellent idea, and Major Anne Westmoreland volunteered to head this up for us.”

Each weekly installment of the series will be available for download on Ministry Toolkit, allowing officers and staff to share them as they see fit across the Southeast. In addition, a streaming “premiere” event will take place each Sunday morning on the Southern Territory’s YouTube channel, with the video then archived for future viewing.

Corps and divisions are encouraged to share the gatherings, which will feature music, arts and other worship elements, on their social media channels. This will allow soldiers across the territory to come together in corporate worship, even if not necessarily digesting the service itself at the exact same time.

The first edition of the series, arriving on May 17, centers on “The Promise of Joy,” with Lieutenant James Harvin, corps officer of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, 614 Corps, as the featured speaker. From there, “The Promise of Prayer” is scheduled for May 24, with Joy Lee, soldier of the Landmark, Virginia, Corps, set to speak.

May 31 is Pentecost Sunday, with Major Wilma Mason, executive administrative assistant to the territorial secretary for personnel, speaking on “The Promise of Power.” Finally, June 7 will focus on “The Promise of Hope,” with Commissioner Barbara Howell, territorial president of women’s ministries, as the speaker to conclude the series.

“We’re excited to use officers and soldiers from across the territory to lead us in worship over these coming weeks,” said Lt. Colonel Hobgood. “These services aren’t meant to replace what any corps is doing, but to unite the territory and perhaps even give some of our officers and soldiers who have been doing these services week after week a little break and a chance to worship and have their own spirits fed.”

“We pray these services will bring us all a little closer together.”


The boundless power of love overflowing

The boundless power of love overflowing

By: Major Terry Israel

When saying goodbye, leaving a group or making future plans, many of us have heard, and perhaps used, that great Southern homily, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” During a recent Bible reading, I penciled the tag “COVID-19” above James 4:13. It is the passage of perspective which challenges those who casually say, “Today or tomorrow we will …” with the admonishment that, “You don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.”

I always found a degree of comfort in believing that there was little need for practical application of that passage in the day-to-day, normal course of life.  Indeed, we could make plans for tomorrow, along with the days and weeks to come, to live and experience life accordingly. For so many of us, the assumption could be made that God was willing and the creek could only be expected to rise when there was the rare major life crisis or emergency.  COVID-19 has certainly forced us to accept that, as well-intentioned and necessary as our personal and professional plans are, quite literally, we don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.

I’m not sure about you, but I do not like sloshing through the streets of daily life that are now flooded as a result of the rising creek of COVID-19. I don’t like masks. (Admittedly, there are some that are very creative and entertaining). I detest the anxiety of having to consider whether the irritation in my throat and the cough that comes with it are just the usual result of the crush of Georgia spring pollen or the signs of a life-threatening virus. I grow frustrated when I purchase two packages of hamburger that I don’t immediately need and suddenly find myself entering the ethical and moral dilemma of wondering if I’m hoarding, and thereby depriving others in need, or merely taking the necessary precautions of stockpiling in preparation for an inevitable shortage. And the entire ordeal is made more traumatic because innocent children, who have no comprehension of social distancing, insist on breaching my six-foot comfort zone and dare to touch my freshly sanitized grocery cart. Did I mention that I don’t like masks? And why do I suddenly have to brush up on high school algebra just to determine how much toilet paper is enough? I want to restore the false sense of security that I’m reasonably sure about tomorrow, and I suspect there are others who want their comfy blanket back as well.

Paul made a wonderful prayer for the Thessalonians in his first letter to them (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). He prayed that God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ would clear the way for them to see each other. Today, let us pray that very soon our society will be restored to where we can see each other, children can return to school and play sports, we will worship in church as a physical body of believers and the joy of events like graduations and weddings, although once taken for granted, will once again be ours.

Paul prayed that the Lord would make their love increase and overflow for each other and everyone else. Today, let us pray that despite the immediate circumstances that readily foster anxiety, fear, frustration and despair, the precious and powerful Holy Spirit will pour within us the love of our Savior Jesus Christ. I like that metaphor of love overflowing. It is the safe way we can reach out to everyone with complete disregard for social distancing.

Paul prayed that God would strengthen their hearts so that they would be blameless and holy in his presence on the day of Christ’s return. Today, let us pray that our hearts may be made clean, blameless and holy so that we may be with God for all eternity. While we are incessantly cleaning and sanitizing, let us be reminded that it is the precious blood of Jesus Christ that provides the means by which we meet the spiritual standard of God’s righteousness.

At the end of that letter, through the inspiration of Scripture, Paul’s benediction teaches us that Jesus is the one who calls us, he is the one who is faithful, and he will do it. Indeed, God is willing. So, who cares if the creek rises tomorrow?