Columbia, S.C., Army sets out to ‘divide and conquer’
By: Major Frank Duracher
The Salvation Army of the Midlands staff and volunteers are employing a “divide and conquer” plan that is deploying small teams to meet needs of families severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Staging from the Army’s area command office in Columbia, South Carolina, service outreach began immediately after South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster ordered all public school in the state closed as of March 11.
The initial response began by packing lunches for each of the families with school-aged children connected to the Army. Majors Henry and Benita Morris divided the planned routes to deliver the lunches daily to each home.
“One mother came up to my wife and said that since her kids have been out of school, it has been hard for her to keep food in the house,” said Major Henry Morris, area commander for Salvation Army operations in Richland, Kershaw, Fairfield, Newberry, and Lexington counties.
“Her kids receive free lunch when they are in school, but now since school is closed, it has been tough for her and her four kids.”
Multiply that mother’s quandary by hundreds, perhaps thousands, and the enormity of this crisis becomes clearer.
“We have also put out the word to our community and media that we are collecting hygiene products and cleaning supplies to hand out to clients through our Social Service office (in addition to) our food pantry,” Major Morris added.
In a scenario that has become all too familiar, items such as hand sanitizers and toilet paper are in extremely high demand.
On another front, Major Morris reported that The Salvation Army is collaborating with Cocky’s Reading Express from the University of South Carolina to operate a book repository for children who attend the Army’s after-school reading program, “Leveraging Literacy.”
“Salvation Army Care Teams deliver (a selection of books) at the home of each student,” said Major Benita Morris. The box includes new books full of adventure, school supplies and a surprise gift. “We want to encourage the students to continue to develop a love for reading while they are homebound until April 30.”
She added that since the children have made so much progress in the reading program, the Army is all the more motivated to support them while they are learning from home.