(From left): Bessie Cochran, Larna Cox, Diana Jackson and Major Geri Dancer

Atlanta church shares windfall with senior tenants of Salvation Army

By: David Ibata

When the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Georgia, received a windfall of funds to alleviate hunger in the community, it thought of The Salvation Army.

Redeemer’s Lutheran Community Food Ministry works with homeless neighbors and food-unstable college students, providing lunch to about 200 people every weekday. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, LCFM went from dining in to carry outs; it has served more than 30,000 meals since then.

“Because of LCFM’s presence in the community, when Fulton County received a large grant for organizations offering food service, LCFM was included, and the county gave extra money to Redeemer to distribute to other organizations,” said David Hansen, the church’s choir director.

Hansen also is an assistant director at the William Booth Towers senior citizens apartments of The Salvation Army Metropolitan Atlanta Area Command. The church board, he said, “was aware of my service at William Booth Towers and offered to include The Salvation Army.”

That generosity took the form of 300 Publix grocery store gift cards, each worth $25, for a total award of $7,500 to Booth Towers residents.

“This is an answer to prayer,” said Major John Dancer, director and chaplain at Booth Towers. “This will help our residents with the holidays, because places we would have taken them to aren’t open this year.”

Booth Towers, in a residential neighborhood east of downtown Atlanta, is home to about 100 people, mostly seniors age 62 years and older and some disabled individuals. They receive housing assistance for low- to moderate-income households from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“We’re taking care of the widows and orphans, as the Bible says,” Major Dancer said. “Many of their spouses are gone, and they have nobody else.”

As tenants, residents are responsible for their own food and rely on monthly Social Security retirement or disability payments to make ends meet. Any extra help is greatly appreciated.

Each household got one Publix gift card in November and will get two in December.

“Our people were so thankful – some couldn’t stop thanking us,” Major Dancer said. “Many of them, especially those without families, didn’t know what they were going to do for Thanksgiving.”