Homeless in Hawaii: Four Kids Reunited with Dad

Jake Snyder, Sr.

The following was submitted by Craig Dirkes, Writer and Photographer of The Salvation Army Northern Divisional Headquarters.

If you’ve ever wondered how your donations to The Salvation Army are used, this story provides the mother of all answers.

Thanks to Salvation Army supporters like you, Jake Snyder has been reunited with his four children after the kids were homeless in Hawaii (see photos). The kids – Zebulon (“Z”), 16; Emily, 15; Jake Jr., 14; and Joey, 11 – were abandoned by their mother. They spent months living in a tent city with other homeless children.

“Living in that camp, everyone was cool with everybody,” said Z, adding that he and Emily assumed the role of Jake and Joey’s mom and dad. “But it hit a downfall toward the end. Hawaii and meth go hand in hand – we didn’t want to be around any of that.”

Local police eventually raided the camp. The kids ended up in a Salvation Army youth shelter, where caseworkers began sorting out their lives. The caseworkers connected with Jake Sr., who’d spent months trying to get the kids back. (Read their entire story and view the video here.)

It all came together Dec. 9, when the kids landed in Minneapolis, straight into their father’s arms. Jake Sr. then drove everyone to The Salvation Army headquarters in Roseville, where the kids picked out winter clothing, school supplies and Christmas gifts. In addition, The Salvation Army gave Jake Sr. food and gas vouchers. When the family later arrived in Detroit Lakes – where Jake Sr. landed a new job – The Salvation Army’s service unit in Becker County set them up in a hotel until they could move into their new home.

“I can’t thank The Salvation Army enough for getting those kids back to me,” Jake Sr. said. “I’m trying to give these kids some stability, give them a place to finish school, give them a life.”

The Snyders’ story is a great example of all the different ways you can bless somebody by giving to The Salvation Army. Your donated frequent flyer miles, for example, got the kids to Minnesota. Your toy donations have given the kids Christmas gifts. Your school supply donations have prepared them for learning. Your clothing donations are keeping them warm. Your food donations are keeping them fed. Your monetary donations got the family transportation assistance and a place to sleep.

Thank you, dear supporters, for giving to The Salvation Army this Christmas season and all year long. To donate or volunteer, please click here.

Photo Courtesy of Craig Dirkes

Straight from the airport to The Salvation Army, the kids picked out winter clothing, school supplies and Christmas gifts. Photo Courtesy of Craig Dirkes

Photo Courtesy of Craig Dirkes