Photo by Erin Wyatt
‘Trunk or Treat’ Helps Georgia Corps Reach Its Community
By: Laura Poff
More than 700 people attended the annual Trunk or Treat fall festival held Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Lawrenceville, Georgia, Corps. The event was open to and advertised in the local community and hosted by members of the suburban Atlanta corps.
Roberta Simmons-Smith, who took over as the corps Salvation Army Mission Specialist (SAMS) last year, says that the huge turnout is due to dedicated public relations and advertising and a corps that is committed to meeting and serving its community.
At a corps soldiers meeting held Oct. 17, soldiers and officers discussed the new vision statement “Upward, Inward, Outward, and Forward,” and how corps programs and activities could fit into these four objectives.
“The consensus was that we’ve got to be out in the community,” Simmons-Smith said. “We need to bring the community in and make the corps accessible to everybody at these events. This is what we are called to do. We can say that we want people to know that we are a church, but until we bring them to the church, they are never going to know.”
Using Facebook, the corps website and email newsletters, Simmons-Smith alerts the public about upcoming events and keeps in touch with beneficiaries and past event attendees. She also creates an information booth at every event and sets up a photo booth to get attendees’ contact information.
“If they want their pictures, they have to leave their email, so I get those and they are added to the list.”
Seven families who came to a previous community event, a back-to-school bash in August, have started attending programs at the corps.
“Our goal with these events is threefold: to raise awareness, get (people) into the corps and preach the gospel,” she said. “At every event, I make sure that we take an opportunity to evangelize, usually with the corps officers up front sharing a devotional. It’s not about getting them into our church; it’s about getting the gospel into them. That’s the priority.”