Hunger Does Not Discriminate

The following was originally posted on The Salvation Army Northern Division’s blog.

Contrary to what some people believe, most folks who need help from Salvation Army food shelves aren’t in that position because they’ve made bad choices. It’s quite the opposite. They’re good, smart, responsible people doing the best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt.

To illustrate this point, we spent a random afternoon interviewing and photographing food shelf guests at the Twin Cities Salvation Army’s satellite office in Burnsville. The people we met were among the dozens who go there on Thursdays for free produce, meat, cheese, and other fresh, delicious perishables.

Our visit made clear that hunger does not discriminate – it affects people in all walks of life. In just one hour, we met a pro wrestler; a woman who gave up financial security to care for her mentally disabled son; a Ph.D.-educated woman suffering from chronic health problems; and a senior citizen scraping by on a fixed income.

We’d like to introduce you to these people to illustrate the good your donations accomplish throughout the year and right now, during Minnesota FoodShare Month.

“Remember that when you give to The Salvation Army, these are the kinds of people you are helping,” said Major Jeff Strickler, Twin Cities Salvation Army commander.

Patrice

Two years ago, Patrice of Burnsville was forced to make a difficult choice: keep her high-paying job as a security officer, or quit the job to care for her 20-year-old son, who has autism. Quitting would reduce her monthly income by about $3,000.

She chose the latter, and now earns a small wage from the state as a personal care attendant for her son.

“Now my son is my job,” said Patrice, 45. “It’s hard to pay my bills. I’m on payment plans for everything.”

Between food shelf services, utility assistance and moral support, The Salvation Army has been a savior for Patrice.

“It’s like family here,” she said. “Sometimes I just need that smile, that kind word – and I get it here. They’re a listening ear, they don’t judge, and they care. It helps to know that somebody cares for you outside of your own family.”

Patrice is grateful for the people who support The Salvation Army.

“Thank God for the volunteers – they’re uplifting,” she said. “And thank God for the people who donate the food, the money – everything.

“If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army, at times I wouldn’t know what to do.”

Carol

Like so many other senior citizens served by The Salvation Army, Carol, 81, is on a fixed income. If her money runs out at the end of the month, she has no way to earn more.

“I’m just barely able to get by on my social security income,” said Carol, who worked as a nursing teacher most of her life. “I can make my house payment and pay the utilities, but I need help with food.”

The day Carol was interviewed, she received a food box filled with turkey tenderloin, fresh fruit, bread, and much more.

“I really appreciate the service here,” she said. “The Salvation Army is an incredible organization.”

Linda

With her Ph.D. in business administration, Linda of Apple Valley has held  positions in health care, education, business and human resources for respected organizations.

Today, Linda suffers from chronic health problems that prevent her from working. To make matters worse, the money she would normally spend on food gets absorbed by the high cost of her monthly medical expenses.

“As a result, I’ve found myself in need of some additional help to get through the month,” said Linda, 61, who has spent her life supporting The Salvation Army and other charities. “I’ve always given, and now I’m the one needing help.”

Thanks to The Salvation Army and its supporters, Linda doesn’t have to worry about her pantry going bare.

“I know very well what The Salvation Army is about, and it’s just a blessing,” she said.

‘The Brawler’

In addition to working part-time at a fitness center, Scott of Burnsville earns money as an actor and professional wrestler – two jobs not known for their income security.

“I don’t have a lot, but everything is paid for,” said Scott, a college graduate who’s played small roles in dozens of movies and TV commercials in the past 10 years, and is known as “The Brawler” to fans of local professional wrestling circuits. “Every morning, I wake up, pray, read my Bible, and ask God if I should go get a ‘real’ job. He says to wait. I’m trying, but I’m not a patient person.”

Scott, 47, visits the food shelf once or twice per month, and is careful not to take too much food – a difficult task considering his 280-pound frame requires lots of fuel.

“I don’t want to overdo it or be greedy,” Scott affirmed. “Whatever I don’t eat, I give to my neighbor – she’s a single mother.”

Scott is thankful for The Salvation Army.

“They help people who can’t always afford to fill their fridge – me being one of those people,” he said. “I can’t say enough good things about them. Everybody’s nice, and they know your name.”

Inspiring volunteer

The photos in this story were shot by Chris Gerber, a financial advisor based in Edina, Minn. Last December, the avid photographer contacted us about voluntarily shooting photos of people served by The Salvation Army.

“I wanted to use my skills to further God’s kingdom,” said Gerber, whose first photo project for The Salvation Army was published in January. “The more the public can know about the human side of The Salvation Army’s work, the better.”

There’s no better time to support Salvation Army hunger programs than right now – it’s Minnesota FoodShare Month, the state’s largest food drive of the year.

Please join us by donating or volunteering.

See original post here.