Arkansas board member draws on experience to help The Salvation Army’s tornado relief effort
By: Cindy Fuller
The Salvation Army is very reliant on volunteers and there are many ways they can become involved. Whether it be volunteering during times of disaster, helping serve meals, helping with the Angel Tree program, ringing the bell at a red kettle, or becoming an Advisory Board member, there is always a place for a volunteer to serve.
When it comes to the work of an Advisory Board member, the focus is to advise and assist The Salvation Army in all its activities, programs, and services in the local community. In Jonesboro, Arkansas, The Salvation Army’s Advisory Board is led by Wayne Wiggins III, a community advocate who serves as the Board Chair.
Wayne’s grandfather was a part of The Salvation Army and ended up being chair of the Jonesboro Advisory Board. Later, his father became very involved and active, and served as Chair for many years. When his father passed away, he was asked to sit on the Advisory Board. Today, Wayne is just as involved as his father was, carrying on the family tradition and legacy of serving The Salvation Army in this capacity.
In 1973, when Wayne was in high school, a large tornado hit Jonesboro while Wayne and his sisters were asleep. They were left with nothing except the clothes they had on that evening. Due to that experience, he understands what some of the survivors are experiencing, such as not having clothes, food to eat, money to buy food and not knowing when help is arriving. He understands what it’s like for a storm to hit in the middle of the night and you can’t see, you don’t know if your family and/or neighbors are okay – it’s very dark and you must wait until daylight to see what has become your new circumstance.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, Wayne was able to put boots on the ground and get involved in emergency disaster response. He was a part of a team on a Rapid Response Unit (RRU), serving hot meals, snacks, and hydration to those affected by damaging tornadoes in the region. It was the first time to be out on a roaming unit which went through neighborhoods and served neighbor to neighbor. He says he was happy to do it and to listen, such as the lady who lived by herself who is afraid to leave her home. “She just needed someone to help reassure her, comfort her, and provide hope,” stated Wiggins.
“The Salvation Army is a great organization,” Wiggins said. “They serve people who many others might not see to serve. The Salvation Army reaches out to everyone – the last, the least, and the lost. People that other people don’t care about; The Salvation Army cares about everyone. We are all going to be equal in heaven. It doesn’t matter what you have here on earth, we are all the same on the inside.”
“What a wonderful asset to have Wayne as our board chair,” said Captain Teri Smith, The Salvation Army’s corps officer in Jonesboro. “His passion for this community is remarkable. He is most alive when helping his friends and neighbors in his community.”
To date, The Salvation Army has provided 17,466 meals, 12,050 drinks, and 16,236 snacks to individuals and families affected by tornadoes across Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Mississippi, while also consulting with emotional and spiritual care for more than 1,800 people.
For more information on The Salvation Army’s continued response, visit salvationarmyusa.org or disaster.salvationarmyusa.org. To make a financial gift to support ongoing disaster relief efforts, visit helpsalvationarmy.org or donate by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY.