Canteens serve at prayer vigil

By: Dan Childs

The Salvation Army was present to provide comfort and assistance after a gunman took the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Salvation Army canteens from Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach were stationed at the community prayer vigil after the shooting to serve food and drinks to hundreds of attendees. Working at the Parkland Recreation and Enrichment Center, adjacent to the amphitheater where the prayer vigil was held, the two feeding units, manned by Salvation Army officers, staff and volunteers, distributed over 300 meals, drinks and snacks to vigil attendees.

Immediately following the shooting, Majors Keath and Candice Biggers of the Fort Lauderdale Area Command reported to the Broward County Emergency Operations Center to help assess community needs and offer The Salvation Army’s help. Mobile feeding units operated by the Army were deployed to serve water, coffee and emotional and spiritual care to first responders.

Major Biggers attended a community meeting focusing on the needs of families affected by the shooting, and he offered to share the support being offered by the Army around the world. Major Biggers was thanked by Florida Governor Rick Scott, who referenced The Salvation Army’s support of relief efforts in his official press release.

The Salvation Army has discussed deploying additional Critical Incident Stress Management-trained emotional and spiritual care specialists to support the community in partnership with other community agencies.

“Emotional and spiritual care is an important part of our disaster response,” Major Biggers said. “To be able to provide some level of comfort to those mourning after such a tragic loss is a duty we do not take lightly.”

Commissioner Willis Howell, Southern territorial commander, recorded a message of support for all people impacted by the tragedy. The video may be viewed on The international leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox, shared his sympathies on social media. “My prayers are with the victims and their families following the shooting in Florida,” the General said. “May love, care, consideration and compassion win over evil, hatred, violence and destruction.”