‘Augusta’s Angel‘: A soldier’s legacy of service, giving
By: Brad Rowland
More than five decades ago, Captain David Leonard was a young boy visiting his grandmother in Augusta, Georgia. Elizabeth Leonard was a soldier of the Augusta Corps and, through her many hours standing at a kettle over multiple years, she earned the distinction of “Augusta’s Angel.”
With a brief moment captured in still photography, Captain Leonard made a lifelong memory – and the stage was set for a lifetime of ministry that includes focus on The Salvation Army’s kettle programming.
Major Geraldine and Captain David Leonard are now commanding officers of the Rogers, Arkansas, Corps. That requires a significant commitment to the kettle program each Christmas.
In 2018, Captain Leonard stepped in at a local Sam’s Club to provide relief to a worker. He encountered a mother and her young son who elected to donate.
The mother explained the significance of the moment to her son. She captured the moment in a photo that immediately reminded Captain Leonard of one he has always cherished from his youth.
“It just struck me how much alike they were,” said Captain Leonard. “For 60 years, this has been my life. Christmas is always about kettles and all of the impact made by the funds we raise. It struck me that my grandmother was so right, how important it is.”
Elizabeth Leonard raised 13 boys while always setting an example of hard work and ministry. Her kettle service was executed without compensation, always in a bonnet and high-heeled shoes, and inspired many, including her grandson. As Captain Leonard now lives in ministry, this memory spurs him to persevere – even on days when the simple act of implementing a kettle program can be quite challenging.
“Kettles can sometimes be incredibly hard work, but the importance of what we do is a big factor,” Captain Leonard said. “The other factor is teaching our kids how crucial it is. I’m glad my parents involved me, even from a young age, and the lessons instilled in me as a result remain in my present-day ministry.”
Fund-raising is at the center of the Army’s kettle programming, but the impact goes well beyond that. Captain Leonard, like many, sees the importance of visibility in the community and, going back to that one photo from his youth, he’s reminded of the non-financial influence.
“Kettles are also important, I think, for the community,” he said. “This is a part of their Christmas, and they are teaching their children. Their children will be future supporters of the ministry of the Army or even those who benefit from the Army’s work.
“We hear these stories about the work of the Army and the impact being made around Christmas, but we should really take them to heart and realize what a simple act can do.”