Salvation Army reaching out to help during troubled time

By: David Ibata

The Salvation Army in the Southern Territory mobilizes to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. As  families face sudden joblessness and financial crises, and vulnerable homeless residents seek shelter from the disease, corps and commands come up with creative ways to serve people in need and welcome stepped-up support from their community partners.

Kinston, North Carolina: Salvation Army officials reached back to Christmas 2019 in a novel idea to pay it forward during the COVID-19 crisis. Toys left over and stored awaiting the next Christmas season are instead being delivered to deserving families with children under 12 in Lenoir, Greene and Duplin counties. The children would have been celebrating birthdays during this time of quarantine. “While I ‘stole’ this idea from another (Salvation Army) command in another territory, my wife and I feel this is a way that we are uniquely positioned to help take a little extra burden off of parents while they struggle to keep food on their tables,” said Captain Chris Lyles.

Chattanooga, Tennessee: In the Greater Chattanooga area, food distribution at The Salvation Army Social Service offices in East Lake has gone from two to five days per week, with pantry shelves emptying as quickly as they are stocked. In response, The Salvation Army is partnering with local grocery stores and many Walmart locations around town to host an in-store and online food drive. Participating sites include eight Walmart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets and Pruett’s Signal Mountain Market. Additionally, Panera Bread and Golden Corral Buffet & Grill donated boxes of food, and the Chattanooga Coca-Cola Bottling Company delivered 50 cases of water.

San Antonio, Texas: The San Antonio Area Command stepped up its sack lunch efforts to provide lunch and dinner for 100 homeless individuals who otherwise would likely go all day without something to eat. Staff and Major Carolynn Webb prepared 100 lunches April 1, which is twice as many as they provide under normal circumstances.

Fairfax, Virginia: Majors Donald and Jean Wilson, corps officers, are on the front lines for The Salvation Army during the coronavirus crisis by providing critical food and cleaning supplies to neighbors. The cleaning kits shown here are being distributed to families and individuals who cannot find or afford sanitizing supplies. The Salvation Army is also delivering non-perishable food and other items to local seniors and others in need.

Shreveport, Mississippi: Lieutenant Jamaal Ellis, corps officer, loads up the canteen for the distribution of food bags. The demand for feeding programs has increased in the area, as area residents adhere to a state-mandated stay-at-home order. The Army’s shelter in Shreveport also is operating.

Oklahoma City: The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs are helping those in need by distributing dinner-time meals in to-go fashion. They are utilizing a drive-through service in coordination with social distancing guidelines. The food is accompanied by prepackaged bags of activities for youth.

Atlanta, Georgia: Metro Atlanta corporate partners of the Disaster Action Alliance donated 500 kits of healthcare supplies to The Salvation Army Red Shield Services homeless shelter. The donated packages included face masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, toilet tissue and hand sanitizer. The kits were delivered from the Mercedes-Benz USA headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Other Alliance members contributing to the effort were UPS, Alston & Bird, The Coca-Cola Co. and Inter-Continental Hotels Group. Separately, The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED Inc. of Atlantas donated 1,200 cases of Dasani Water, Coca-Cola Cinnamon and other flavors to Red Shield Services.