Kentucky-Tennessee division unveils new take on fellowship with ‘The Unveiling’

Kentucky-Tennessee division unveils new take on fellowship with ‘The Unveiling’

By: Brad Rowland

With a desire to bring young adults together across the Kentucky-Tennessee Division of The Salvation Army, a group traveled to six locations – including four in a single holiday weekend – to share “The Unveiling.” The Unveiling is a mystery dinner theater program designed and implemented by the Youth Department of the division, with seven characters executing an interactive show accompanied by a meal.

The ensemble traveled to four corps – Frankfort and Henderson in Kentucky, Knoxville and Jackson in Tennessee – and two college campuses – Asbury University and Trevecca Nazarene University. Combined, over 200 young people attended, with the idea that this kind of fellowship could be brought to young adults, rather than asking them to come to a central location.

“Rather than having everyone drive to one location, the idea of a tour allowed people to avoid driving a long distance,” said Joel Collier, divisional music director. “It still allowed for fellowship but also for a level of convenience and cost savings.”

While a large portion of each program was dedicated to the enjoyable and entertaining mystery program, things transitioned to a time of praise and worship, followed by a dedication message. Lieutenant Mark Cancia, Trevecca student ministries, delivered the word on multiple occasions, with Captain Matt Cunningham, divisional youth and candidates secretary, also bringing a devotional time along the way.

“I think it went quite well in every stop,” Collier said. “We were pleased with how many people got involved and attended. I think people enjoyed it and had fun, but it was also great to keep people engaged with the dinner theater and be able to transition that into active worship and spiritual study.”

The tour, or something like it, could be implemented again, either later in 2020 or in the years to come. Beyond that, the idea was simple, yet effective and replicable, planting the seed for similar activities in other parts of the territory and across the Salvation Army world.

“It’s important to remember that this came out of a desire to fellowship together and that it can be very easy to put something like this together, even without a designated financial budget,” said Alicia Collier, divisional creative arts director. “This is something that can be both fun and impactful. If there is a desire or a need, people can get out there and just make it happen.”

“Our young adults simply wanted to be involved and wanted to have something they could participate in,” Joel Collier said. “Ultimately, I think that’s why they turned up and invested their time, to be a part of a fellowship together.”


Tenacity, perseverance, and discipline: Kroc Center ‘social circus’ reaches at-risk kids

Tenacity, perseverance, and discipline: Kroc Center ‘social circus’ reaches at-risk kids

By: David Ibata

When a group of at-risk teenagers in Atlanta, Georgia, learned this winter they’d be going to a Kroc Center to learn circus arts, most were less than thrilled. Circus, they said – isn’t that elephants, clowns and flying trapezes?

Well, not so much elephants, but it takes talent and hard work to be a clown, and a trapeze is more than a person on a swing – think acrobatics, ropes and silks.

“They love it. They didn’t know they were going to love it, but they do,” said Traci Willis, director of the JourneyZ program of Chris180, a social services agency that works with youth in group foster homes. “They’d never have learned how to do the trapeze or ride a unicycle if they weren’t here. It’s not as hard as it looks. Doing it builds self-esteem, confidence, all types of things.”

Nineteen young people are enrolled in “social circus” at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Atlanta’s Pittsburgh neighborhood. The program came out of the Cirque du Soleil performance troupe of Quebec, Canada, and its Cirque du Monde, which uses circus arts to reach young people around the world.

“Social circus aims to ensure the all-around development and social inclusion of people at risk, especially youth,” says the Community Worker’s Guide of the Foundation Cirque du Soleil. “Precisely because it leaves room for freedom and creativity while demanding tenacity, perseverance and discipline, social circus empowers participants to use their marginality to express themselves and establish a new relationship with a society that has often excluded them.”

Benjamin Scholes, director of operations at Kroc Atlanta, said social circus “is an intervention program for our children most at risk, to give them a safe place to learn circus arts and to fold in social workers to help them. We go into the schools and seek out local groups who can tell us the kids having the most trouble in school, who are going through something traumatic, who need some adults to come around them in life and get them to the other side of whatever they’re going through.”

Blake Lanier, a psychologist and therapist, explained why he brought the social circus idea to the Kroc Center.

“Social circus is designed to be community intervention,” he said. “Youth see the larger community investing in them, and the community sees the youth investing back in the community.”

Lanier’s “aha” moment came when he began working with the Cirque du Soleil global citizenship team. “I saw their model of using the circus as psychosocial and community intervention absolutely had the possibility of being just as effective as the therapy I had been doing for many years … a way to reach kids who didn’t tend to respond well to the traditional, office-space type of therapy.”

For young people, he said, circus training “provides grace and development with fine motor and gross motor skills; it provides life skills, such as communicating with others, problem solving, grit and perseverance; and certainly it offers empowerment and a way to find their voice. It’s unlimited, the number of skills you can transfer from learning circus, to life.”

The Kroc Center piloted its first social circus last fall, working with youngsters in elementary through high school. This winter, it’s working with teens about to age out of foster care. Chris180 brings the students, and InFlight Gymnastics provides the training.

Classes meet twice a week for two hours in the evening. Students first eat dinner in the dining room, then go to the gym for “circle time” in a big group, and finally, break up for instruction in areas that interest them – from tumbling to trapeze to juggling to plate spinning. They may work in small groups, learning about trust, responsibility and camaraderie.

“We try to use the circus as a way to foster their imagination,” said Meredith Gordon, the director of clowning. “Most of what we do involves something physical. When teaching a lesson, kids can understand with their bodies as well as their minds.”

Nyissa Casado, who teaches stilts, dancing and aerial skills, said, “We tap into their talent and remove the limitations. For instance, one kid here is good at shooting three-pointers. How about shooting three-pointers from a unicycle? We encourage kids to think creatively.”

Michael, 17, is an enthusiastic learner; he’s been in love with the Big Top since attending a summer circus camp. “I want to learn juggling – bean bags, bowling pins, basketballs, anything. It’s one of the things that got me interested in the circus.”

A semester runs for 17 or 18 weeks and culminates in a performance, awards and a party. The program is free to the young participants; The Salvation Army pays the salaries of trainers and social workers. An outreach to potential funders will begin soon.

It so happened that during last fall’s session, Cirque du Soleil was performing in Atlanta. Of course, the social circus students got tickets to a show.

“All the skills they were working on, they were able to see on stage,” Scholes said. “The light went on: This was something more than playing in a gym.”

“There is a chance some child will find a path for themselves in the circus arts. But this program is more about developing relationships, helping a child work through a short- or long-term trauma, providing them an outlet to express themselves in a safe yet seemingly dangerous atmosphere, and to give these children a chance to succeed in a non-traditional area.”


The Salvation Army of Atlanta’s needs mesh with those of volunteer retiree

The Salvation Army of Atlanta’s needs mesh with those of volunteer retiree

By: Brad Rowland

After completing the last 20 years of a career in housing, community development, zoning and development management in North Carolina, James Diepenbrock relocated to the Atlanta area to spend more time with his grandchildren and two grown children. Diepenbrock became aware of The Salvation Army’s work through a connection during his time in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in the summer of 2019, he attended a disaster services training put together by the Georgia Division.

From there, Diepenbrock was connected with Chris Durand, director of management services for the Atlanta Area Command, and a fruitful partnership was formed through Diepenbrock’s heart for volunteer mission.

“Last summer, we decided to put together some disaster training classes at DHQ and Jim signed up to attend,” said Donna Roper, volunteer coordinator for the Atlanta Area Command. “He ended up doing so, and I was attending the classes as well. Afterward, he let me know that he wanted to get involved in other ways, also sharing what his background was. Looking at that, I put him in touch with Chris (Durand). He was eager to help, and it ended up being a perfect fit.”

In Atlanta and across the Southern Territory, The Salvation Army deploys a facilities management software called ARCHIBUS, which would apply, but not be limited, to Kroc Centers, area command buildings and shelters. The software is highly useful and functional, but the implementation can be labor intensive, particularly at the outset, due to logistics and data entry.

That opened the door for Durand and his team to carve out a dedicated volunteer position, which seemed to be a natural fit for Diepenbrock. Beginning in October, Diepenbrock began coming to the area command offices on a weekly basis, spending time with data entry that helps with workflow, preventative maintenance and the furthering of capital planning.

“It’s a God thing,” Durand said. “The timing just happened to be perfect and we really needed the help that Jim was able to bring. He’s been pivotal in this implementation, entering the data almost as quickly as we can give it to him. It’s blossomed from there and we are very grateful for Jim, his heart and the work he’s done.”

In a state of semi-retirement, Diepenbrock was on the hunt for ways to make an impact in the Atlanta community. He found a niche that was both enjoyable and functional with The Salvation Army, and Diepenbrock’s previous career experience proved to be a bonus.

“I enjoy hearing that it makes a significant difference and that the work is helpful,” Diepenbrock said. “This work also helps me keep my skills sharp, which I think is important for someone of retirement age. I think volunteering can be a spiritual calling, and it’s also an age and stage in life for me. The thing that’s really great about volunteering is the flexibility to invest where the need is and to be available where the need is; also just being free to explore many different options and be as helpful as possible wherever I can make an impact.”

Diepenbrock plans to continue the work, recently visiting Atlanta’s Red Shield Services Emergency and Transitional Housing Facility. When he’s not volunteering, Diepenbrock works on the campus of Perimeter Church in the Johns Creek community, and he also provides support services in the Atlanta community for adults with special needs and memory loss.

“I’ve long believed in the mission of The Salvation Army, and this volunteer role provides wonderful opportunities to serve and contribute to that mission with tangible significance,” Diepenbrock said. “We aren’t always fortunate enough to minister this way in our first vocation. I hope to encourage others age 60 and older, because it’s never too late to play a part and let the Lord minister through us using abilities with which he has equipped us over the course of our lives.”


‘Mom’ Miller still influences many people around The Salvation Army world

‘Mom’ Miller still influences many people around The Salvation Army world

By: Major Frank Duracher

Major Catherine Miller has too many “children” to number – in addition to the four she birthed. That’s because her front portal has been a revolving door for decades, admitting scores of young people needing a place to stay and a listening ear.

Retired now for over 25 years, “Mom Miller” remains the matriarch of the Wichita, Kansas, Citadel Corps. Her influence continues with dozens of youth active in her corps.

Her motherly love for troubled kids and teens began while she and her beloved husband, Arnold, served as active officers across the Central Territory and, in post-retirement, a corps officer stint in the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division in the South. Several of her kids have gone on to serve as Salvation Army officers themselves, including one of her sons.

One “daughter,” Margaret, became an officer, and Catherine participated in the dedication of their baby not long ago.

Catherine also has a great heart for the mission field, fostering young adults from as far away as France, Switzerland, South Korea and China. “We always supported the missions and volunteered but never were able to go (one child, Joy, was handicapped).”

One has only to look to her mother as Catherine’s Christian example. “My mother raised us 10 children while working as schoolteacher in Nebraska. It was hard for her because dad was away much of the time, working on the road.”

Admittedly, the “revolving door” has slowed dramatically (she has only one living with her today), but that hasn’t slowed Mom Miller in her 90th year. She is very active in her corps and constantly encourages others to be very involved in the Army’s mission and ministry.

She keeps correspondence with her foster kids both here and abroad, sending monthly checks to those living overseas and remembering all birthdays and anniversaries. She even includes a $5 bill to children for birthdays up to adult age. In her basement, extensive photo albums of her foster kids track their whereabouts and important milestones, including babies of their own.

Through decades of taking kids in, Catherine marvels that she and Arnold “always had the support of our divisional commanders.” A running joke has it that whenever the DC’s phone rang, he might have been wondering if the Millers were taking in one more waif.

As for her own children, Catherine exercised great patience and faith. She says now that her greatest answer to prayer spanned 54 years during the life of her handicapped daughter, Joy. Born breached, the baby was deprived of oxygen. “Joy was a miracle because God preserved her brain. She was mentally alert, and loved to laugh spontaneously,” Catherine said.

Another daughter, Dawn, grew up to be a great wife and mother in her own right, but was diagnosed later in life with multiple sclerosis. Dawn was Promoted to Glory a few years after her sister, Joy.

Catherine lost her beloved Arnold some five years ago.

Whether she found intense joy in housing youth – or the times of extreme grief – Catherine falls back heavily on her faith in Christ. From the night of her conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade in Moline, Illinois, to the weekend at youth councils where she felt God’s call to Salvation Army officership, Catherine’s reliance on God only grew stronger.

One Mother’s Day a few years ago, her family and friends pulled off a surprise crowning of Catherine as “Mother of the Year” at the Wichita Citadel Corps. Scores of tributes from around the world were read and videoed, all of them rising up “to call her blesséd” (Proverbs 31:28).

Major Frank Duracher, a former staff writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.


To Battle We Go: Accomplishing the mission is not enough

To Battle We Go: Accomplishing the mission is not enough

By: Steve Kellner

Leadership is a complex subject, but the U.S. Army’s Non-Commissioned Officer’s Creed contains this one sentence description: “My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind – accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers.” The U.S. Air Force defines it even more succinctly: “Mission First, People Always.” This creed is introduced at the lowest levels of military leadership training and is re-emphasized throughout the careers of every service member right up through the ranks, from the newest privates, sailors and airmen to the most senior generals and admirals.

The order of tasks in the creed is no accident. Accomplishing the mission is always the top priority, but taking care of the troops is a very close second, more like 1 and 1A. A military unit dedicated primarily to the welfare of its own members is a club, not a fighting force. But neglect of the troops’ welfare makes it impossible to accomplish the mission. And, somewhat paradoxically, one of the primary needs of the troops is to have a clear mission and leaders truly dedicated to that mission. Without this, morale suffers, infighting breaks out and the overall effectiveness of the unit is lowered.

The Salvation Army has historically been a very mission-focused movement, carrying the message of the gospel and serving the needy all over the world. But in the busyness of our myriad ministry activities and programs, it’s easy to lose sight of our primary mission. That mission must always be our top priority, not just because we’re Salvationists, but because we’re Christians. The Army’s mission is the same mission Jesus gave the disciples: to “go into the world and preach the gospel” and to “clothe the naked, visit the sick and come to the prisoners.”

I think it’s fair to say that we in the Army haven’t paid as much attention to the welfare of our troops as to accomplishing our mission. This cultural shortcoming within our ranks goes all the way back to our founder, William Booth. General Booth possessed many outstanding leadership traits, but compassion for those wounded in the fight (including his own family members) was not chief among them. Perhaps this is understandable given the rapid growth of the early Army and Booth’s desire to “turn the world upside down” for Jesus. But it isn’t sustainable long term, because the work of the Army is hard and takes its toll on those doing the front-line fighting.

Some wounded Salvationists feel unsupported and leave the Army altogether. Others stick around but are shell-shocked and ineffective in ministry, just going through the motions. Salvationist leaders at all levels must heed the instruction in Acts 20:28: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

So, let’s recommit ourselves to accomplishing the mission – and taking care of the troops.


‘Salvation Army USS Events’ app set to debut for territorial congress

‘Salvation Army USS Events’ app set to debut for territorial congress

By: Brad Rowland

Searching for Salvation Army content in the iOS or Android app store would yield numerous returns, with commands from around the world represented in the results. In 2020, though, a new entrant arrived with the creation of an app titled “Salvation Army USS Events,” with the Call to Mission Southern Territorial Congress serving as the event that will launch the product.

The territorial congress, taking place June 5-7, will be the first event chronicled by the app, but it was designed with the capability to be used for all territorial events, with potential expansion to divisional gatherings. In short, it brings the experience of a full, deep-dive program booklet and places it on one’s cellular device, delivering a bevy of information in highly accessible form.

“It can be really engaging for younger adults, or really anyone, to be able to dive into everything that an event has to offer, right on their phone,” said Dave Haas, territorial ministry toolkit and events app manager. “It provides the ability to connect with others in a social setting, all while also bringing the informational components that bring their own functionality. I think it will be very cool for any event in its own way.”

The app is available now, though it won’t take on its full form until closer to the congress’s arrival. It will feature basic information, ranging from schedule information to speaker biographies and location maps. The app also brings social interactive capability, with the ability to connect with other attendees through messaging and information sharing. In addition, the capability exists to send push notifications to any app user, bringing a dynamic approach that allows for reminders and real-time insight.

Though the current design centers on the Call to Mission congress, there is great versatility in the events app, with organizers of future events able to mold its features to the needs of a specific assembly.

“The app can be as bare-bones as an event organizer would want with just schedules and basic information,” Haas said. “Or on the flip side, it can be very creative and expansive if the event calls for it. There are always some limitations, but just about everything that we’ve thought of for the congress has been able to be achieved within the app. We’re excited about the potential for the future.”

Though it should be noted that attendees must register separately for the congress, even after downloading the app, its capabilities are wide-ranging, and individuals can prepare for the congress well before arriving.

“The app really allows people to dig in and personalize their experience, all while engaging with the broader community in that public setting,” said Haas. “Almost everybody’s got a phone. Everybody’s digital today. We can be environmentally friendly by using this and avoiding extensive printing but, in addition, we can put the information in everyone’s hands and update things instantly throughout the process. It’s modern, but it’s also simple and it gives us the ability to let people mold the experience to what they want. We think that’s important.”

The app can be found here for iOS and Android.


Young Salvation Army musicians polish skills at Gardner-Webb University

Young Salvation Army musicians polish skills at Gardner-Webb University

By: Major Frank Duracher

With an average age of 17, some 34 budding musicians were treated to a weekend of music instruction and performance when the Carolinas Divisional Youth Band visited the music department’s ministry partner, the School of Performing and Visual Arts at Gardner-Webb University.

The two-day event developed from an ongoing collaborative partnership between the CDYB and the Bible-based college located in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.

“This is our second collaborative event,” said Dr. Patricia Sparti, GWU chair of the Distinguished Artists Committee and professor of music. “Last summer, the division’s music groups and GWU presented a concert in uptown Shelby (North Carolina).”

The young musicians hit the ground running on Saturday morning, with intense practice that lasted well into the afternoon. Tim Hudson, principal trumpet with the world-renowned Carolina Brass, spent an hour working with the entire group.

Additional workshops were conducted by other Carolina Brass members, according to instrument sections: Trumpet/Cornet (Hudson); Horn (Bob Campbell); Trombone/Euphonium/Tuba (Dave Wulfeck); and Percussion (John R. Beck).

Tanner Shelton is principal trumpet/cornet for the CDYB, and a soldier of the Burlington, North Carolina, Corps. A sophomore at GWU, he is working towards a degree in music performance.

A free concert was offered Saturday night, showcasing the impressive progress of the young musicians and supported by Carolina Brass and members of the GWU Brass Choir. The program, held at the Dover Theater on campus, was the latest in GWU’s Distinguished Artists Series and The Alfred & Shirley Wampler Caudill Endowed Fund.

A massed band then filled the stage for the finale – Wagner’s Elsa’s Procession To The Cathedral – especially arranged for the occasion by Andrew Wainwright.

For Sunday morning worship, the CDYB was on duty at Dover Chapel on campus, with the message delivered by Pastor Tracy Jessup, GWU vice-president for Christian life and service.

Nathan Cole and Sam Mhasvi, CDYB leaders, came away from the weekend pleased with the instruction and performance of this talented group of young artists.

“The Salvation Army has a rich heritage in Christian music and the arts,” Cole said. “In the Carolinas, we provide a comprehensive program for youth and adults, where talents are nurtured for the glory of God.”

“This latest collaboration helped ‘raise the bar’ in what our young people can achieve and set a benchmark for future artistic outcomes,” Mhasvi said. “Our guys gained so much from performing and instruction with Carolina Brass and also being in and around the more experienced Gardner-Webb students.”

Brass banding is a developing genre in the South, and this weekend further enhanced and showcased the future music “all-stars” and leading citizens of North and South Carolina.

Major Frank Duracher, a former staff writer for The War Cry and the Southern Spirit, is a retired Salvation Army officer living in North Carolina.


The Salvation Army and needy individuals are helped by skilled and loving hands in Atlanta

The Salvation Army and needy individuals are helped by skilled and loving hands in Atlanta

By: David Ibata

Rosie Brannon said she started the “Knit Wits” in 2006 at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia, as a women’s Sunday school activity that wasn’t bridge – “because some of us didn’t play bridge, yet we liked to get together.”

The knitting and crocheting circle set out to produce hand-made goods for needy residents of the community. And Brannon knew the agency best suited to distribute the gifts.

“I was for many years active in The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary,” she said. “We thought the work of our knitters should go to the needs of the Army.”

Today, the Knit Wits – “Knitting Women Inspired to Serve” – are an integral part of the Presbyterian Women of Peachtree Presbyterian.

They’ve evolved into an ecumenical, service-oriented group made up of 28 volunteers mostly from the church and some from the Women’s Auxiliary and other congregations. About half are regular contributors, faithfully producing hundreds of hats, scarves, baby booties, shawls and blankets every year.

Among the group’s guidelines: Members do not need to attend meetings regularly to participate; instructions are available for learning to knit and crochet; help is offered to correct mistakes or solve knitting problems; and there’s a large supply of new and partial skeins of free yarn to use in gift-making.

“It’s a great organization,” said Karen Klett, major gifts manager for The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command. “The ladies get together and do what they enjoy doing for something that’s worthwhile and very needed.”

The Knit Wits’ first output went to the Adult Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta. Over the years, items have gone to the William Booth Towers senior housing and Red Shield Harbor Light homeless shelter. Occasionally, a piece arrives so well made – notably, the baby blankets by member Teena Everhart – it’s selected for Metro Atlanta’s Christmas Angel Tree distribution.

The group created 315 knitted goods in 2019 and have given 4,344 items to date, mostly to The Salvation Army. Members work through the year. Every October, they have a gathering “where people who’ve been hanging on to pieces they’ve made bring them in,” Brannon said.

“We have a 98-year-old member, Penny Parker, who lives in a retirement home in Buckhead (in Atlanta) who will bring in 14, 15, maybe more, scarves. We’re especially proud of her because her main interest in life is dancing, and at her age, she’s still competing in dance contests around the country.”

Brannon, 93, retired two years ago as Knit Wits leader, handing the reins to the present co-leaders, Marianne Lassiter and Wendy Moore. New members are always welcome; interested persons can contact Brannon at [email protected] or 770-579-8557.

“God is the source of power that first inspired us,” Brannon said. “We feel that God led us to this service and has supported us in following the motto of The Salvation Army, ‘Doing the Most Good.’ While our history and continued service is interesting, the power supporting and inspiring us is of the greatest importance.”


A good neighbor joins The Salvation Army’s stand against hunger in Tifton, Georgia

A good neighbor joins The Salvation Army’s stand against hunger in Tifton, Georgia

By: David Ibata

When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. – Deuteronomy 24:19 (NIV)

As The Salvation Army Service Center in Tifton, Georgia, started putting together Christmas gift baskets last fall, a surprise donation showed up: 1,500 pounds of sweet potatoes, packed into 300 five-pound bags.

Kelley Bedore, service center director, “mentioned she was putting together baskets when the sweet potatoes came in. The timing was perfect,” said Sandi Newman, program coordinator in Georgia for the Society of St. Andrew, dedicated to gathering surplus food for the needy through the Biblical practice of gleaning.

God ordained gleaning to ensure less fortunate people did not go hungry. It’s there in the Book of Ruth, Chapter 2 (NIV); Ruth and Naomi, refugees from Moab, arrive in Bethlehem as the barley harvest is beginning. “So (Ruth) went out, entered a field, and began to glean behind the harvesters. As it turned out, she found herself working in a field belonging to Boaz. …” You know the rest of the story.

“Sandi Newman is absolutely wonderful,” Bedore said. “She has volunteers go out and glean – different local farmers let them take food that’s left in the fields after they harvest their crops.”

The Salvation Army and other nonprofits also have gotten broccoli, cabbage, green peppers, strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, squash, greens and cilantro – produce grown through the year in the South Georgia fields around Tifton. Besides gift baskets, food has gone to the service center food pantry and Family Store. “It’s a great partnership. We all collaborate together,” Bedore said.

When the growing season is good, the amounts to be harvested can be more than farmers need.

“One farmer called me today with 10 pallets of produce from his cooler to donate – seven loaded with boxes of greens, and three with boxes of cabbage,” Newman said. “Lots of times, they’ve filled their contracts; many times, they’re still bringing in the harvest, and they’re trying to clear out their coolers to make room for fresher produce they’re trying to market.”

“Usually this happens toward the end of the season, but this year it’s been happening more frequently,” Newman said. “That same farm last year donated about six truckloads of produce (at 45,000 pounds per load) because they’re overwhelmed. This happens a lot during the watermelon and cabbage seasons; the quantities grown are such, they have more in their packing house than they can handle at one time.”

Without an organization like the Society of St. Andrew, all that food might have gone to a landfill. The society was founded in 1979 in Big Island, Virginia, as an intentional Christian community to help resolve the problem of world hunger. In 1983, the Society of St. Andrew Potato and Produce Project delivered its first load of gleaned produce.

The organization today has offices in eight states that directly handle donations and recruits volunteers in 10 states. The volunteers are active in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Nationally, the society reported distributing 19 million pounds of fresh produce last year, gleaned or bagged by 25,544 volunteers at 6,037 events, donated by 905 farmers to 2,130 feeding programs. In Georgia, 1,185 volunteers handled 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce in 248 events. Food donated by 62 farmers was distributed to 85 feeding agencies. The Salvation Army in Tifton fed 55 families in December.

Participating farmers, Newman said, “are always surprised and pleased at the end of the year when we send them their donation receipts showing how many pounds we’ve been able to salvage. They may look at a field and not realize how much food is still out there, available to us through the work of our volunteers.”

For more information, contact Adam F. Graham or Sandi Newman at: [email protected] or go to or call 800-333-4597.


The Salvation Army partners with community in creation of Peachtree Creek Greenway

The Salvation Army partners with community in creation of Peachtree Creek Greenway

By: David Ibata

When dignitaries and residents of Brookhaven, Georgia, gathered to cut a ribbon and formally open the first phase of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, they paused to recognize a key partner in the $10 million project.

“Without their assistance and generosity, we would not be here today, and that’s The Salvation Army,” said Joe Gebbia, mayor pro tem of Brookhaven.

Phase I of the walking and bicycling path runs 1.27 miles along the North Fork of Peachtree Creek northeast of Atlanta, Georgia. Except when a heavy rain sends it over its banks, the waterway is only a few inches deep and about 30 feet wide. It threads its way behind apartment buildings, office complexes and The Salvation Army’s Southern Territorial Headquarters and Atlanta Temple Corps.

Until recently, the stream was an impassable thicket. Work crews last year chopped and cleared the vegetation, opened the creek bed to sunlight and hauled away years of accumulated trash. They carved into its slopes a 14-foot-wide paved trail with multiple access points and parking, including two on The Salvation Army campus.

At roughly the half-way mark, a bridge of concrete and steel was built to carry the path across the creek. Here, the city set up a white tent with folding chairs at the foot of the bridge for speakers and refreshments; the ribbon-cutting took place on the span.

Gebbia thanked The Salvation Army for donating land and easements for the project. He specifically cited Captain Kenneth Argot, Atlanta Temple Corps officer; Nathaniel Coles, assistant director of facility operations for the THQ Property Department; and Caleb Louden, mission specialist for the Metro Atlanta Command.

“They were responsible for the North Druid Hills trailhead,” next to THQ, Gebbia said. “Also, we had a homeless population living along the creek, under bridges, and the charge of the (city) council was not to shuttle these people off, but to handle the situation holistically and with respect. The people of The Salvation Army gave us the assistance to really address that situation.”

The Red Shield Harbor Light Corps in Atlanta worked with Brookhaven to offer homeless residents a place to stay for up to six months; food, clothing and medical care; and for those wishing it, spiritual counseling, job training and help overcoming substance abuse.

The Army also made available a 14-by-160-foot retaining wall along the Greenway for a mural to be commissioned by the city and plans its own mural on the side of a warehouse building along the trail.

A future Phase II will extend the trail south into Atlanta, and Phase III, north to the cities of Chamblee and Doraville, for a total length of 12.3 miles. And at its midpoint, visible to thousands of passersby every week, will be The Salvation Army.