Harvesting a Future

Monday, August 8, 2011

Don’t be fooled the next time you’re driving through downtown Billings, MT- you’re still in the city! The Salvation Army of Billings has recently planted 70 organic apple trees on the lot next to their building in an effort to provide higher education to disadvantaged kids.
The agricultural program is called the “Billy Boots Fine Arts Academy”. After planting and waiting, the kids participating will either sell the fruit or make organic apple cider. The profits are then saved to help pay for college in the future. The goal is to have 1,000 trees planted by 2014.

“That’s really the goal of this, we believe education is a great way, and maybe the most important way, to get out of poverty and break the cycle”, said Major Kevin Jackson, Salvation Army Executive Director.

The Salvation Army offers many opportunities to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of low-income and disadvantaged children. You can learn more by clicking here.

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Country Crooner Josh Kelley Supports a Hunger-Free Summer with a Musical Boost

Friday, August 5, 2011

While on tour for his newly released album, Georgia Clay, country artist Josh Kelley visited the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Omaha, NE on Monday. Following a special musical performance, the children enjoyed a morning full of sports, crafts, and lunch with the acclaimed musician.

His stop at the Kroc Center is one of several visits to food banks and summer food program sites across the country- a joint effort with the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America. The partnership is an effort to raise awareness about the issue of child hunger in the United States.

When school lets out for the summer and free and reduced-price school lunch programs become unavailable, millions of children in the United States are without food. The Hunger-Free Summer Program was started to ensure children have enough to eat during the summer by expanding summer meal programs to more children in more places. Their goal this summer is to serve an additional one million meals and feed 10,000 more children through unique and innovative community-based programs.

Visit www.HungerFreeSummerTour.org to learn more about the program and the 23 food banks that received Hunger-Free Summer grants.
For more information on the Salvation Army Kroc Centers please visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.

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“Invisible People” Inspired by Tulsa’s Center of Hope

Thursday, August 4, 2011

By Sallie Godwin, PR Director, Tulsa Area Command

Singing pirates, sword-fighting puppets, belly-dancing cowgirls – when Thomas Gibbs moved in the Center of Hope last year, no one had a clue his stay there was the beginning of an unusual adventure for The Salvation Army’s Tulsa Area Command. Yet that’s what happened this summer when the Tulsa Command became involved with “Invisible People,” a dance, theater and music production about homelessness created by Thomas’s mother Shadia Dahlal.

Like most people, Shadia had not thought about homelessness until it hit someone in her family. Thomas had lost his job and needed a place to stay. “He has Asperger’s and some other issues, and I was just so grateful that there was a place he could go and stay. I was very impressed with the people in charge of the Center of Hope and the care they showed everyone there,” she said.

Shadia owns the Belly Dance Academy of Tulsa and is artistic director of the Tulsa Folkloric Dance Theater, the non-profit organization that produced the show. Following her son’s stay at The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope, a homeless shelter and social services center, she was inspired to write a poem, which she titled “Invisible People.” Her husband put the poem to music and it became the name – and theme – of the production. Shadia said she called the poem “Invisible People” because “so many people who are homeless aren’t dealing with mental illness or fighting substance abuse. But they are just as invisible to the rest of society as those who are.”

Shadia reached out to the Center of Hope and told her about her idea for the production. She worked with several of the Center’s homeless guests to use their photographs as the show’s backdrop and even invited them to the dress rehearsal.

The dress rehearsal was held July 7 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the premier live- theater venue in Tulsa. Local Salvation Army leaders Majors Roy and Kathy Williams attended the show along with 10 of the guests who had posed for photographs. As honored guests, they were the only people allowed to attend the dress rehearsal. Everyone sat enthralled as a dumpster morphed into a pirate ship and two pirates emerged to act as singing ambassadors from the world of people’s dreams to the reality of an alley where homeless people lived.

The grand finale of the show was a slide show created with huge photographs of the guests from the Center of Hope. After the curtain call, the guests mingled with the performers, some of whom were moved to tears. “The whole cast was touched. It was nice to have them there,” Shadia said. The homeless guests seemed to enjoy the project and handled challenges with humor and grace.

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Sallie Godwin is PR Director at the Tulsa Area Command. Sallie began her career as a newspaper reporter and enjoys writing and shooting photographs for six Boys & Girls Clubs and the Center of Hope homeless shelter in Tulsa. She also writes posts for salarmytulsa.blogspot.com.

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Amazing Support Made “The MOST Amazing Race” a Hit – Again!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Last weekend, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota were transformed into one giant race course for several dozen brave adventurers.

The Salvation Army Northern Division hosted their sixth annual “MOST Amazing Race,” patterned after the CBS hit show “The Amazing Race.” 24 teams of two hussled from checkpoint to checkpoint where they faced mental and physical challenges that ranged from fun to silly to difficult to tasty! See the photo captions for more details – there’s one challenge in particular that would make even the bravest of the brave think twice…

Congrats to Grant Dietrich and Jesse Struve of the team “Two Guys,” first-time winners of The MOST Amazing Race and the $5,000 grand prize provided by the race’s corporate sponsors! They crossed the finish line with an impressive time of 4 hours, 8 minutes, followed closely by teams “Let’s Winning” and “Super Karate Monkey Death Car.”

While the race is a ton of fun, it also supports an important cause as teams fundraise in order to compete. The earnings benefits The Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Club, which helps alleviate hunger and homelessness in the Twin Cities. Over $214,000 has been raised since the event started in 2006. This year competitors and donors helped raise more than $22,000!

We also want to shout the praises of our teams who did an amazing job with fundraising: congratulations to our top fundraising team “Adventure Guy and Gal,” along with “House of Luu’s” and “Two Guys.”

Find more info about the race, plus awesome photos, at www.thesalarmy.org/race. We already can’t wait for next year!

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Ruben’s Run Video Interview

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Former NFL Guard Ruben Brown has made it to 6 stops so far on his 7,000 mile bike ride across the country as he raises awareness of The Salvation Army.

We’ve posted updates along the way, but we love this video from FOX 4 in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Ruben tells in his own words how his trip is going and shares some background about why he chose to support The Salvation Army as his charity of choice. We definitely recommend watching the interview!

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Target Helps Salvation Army Youth Get Ready for Back-to-School

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It may be the middle of summer, but more than 12,000 students today are actually excited to start school again in the fall!

That’s because Target stores across the country treated them to an amazing Back-to-School-Spree with the help of The Salvation Army this morning. The kids were each given an $80 Target Gift Card to choose their favorite school supplies, clothes, and other necessities for the upcoming academic year.

For some children, this is the first time they’ve ever had brand new school materials. For many, they have a new confidence knowing they don’t have to worry about being picked on or falling behind due to a lack of supplies. For all, the shopping event was a lot of fun!

We want to wish a huge THANKS to our partner Target for their $1 million donation that is supporting the education and development of thousands of Salvation Army youth program participants. Also, to our many volunteer chaperones who helped today, you rock!

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Ruben Rolls Into Dallas-Ft. Worth

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ruben Brown has made it all the way down to Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas!

When he arrived at The Salvation Army in Arlington, he had a group of excited young fans waiting for him. Ruben also rolled west to the Mabee Center where he served lunch. At both Salvation Army programs, he didn’t waste any time getting involved and hanging out with his new friends.

Check out our photos to see all the fun!

[Ruben's Run - DFW]
Kids in the summer day camp program at The Salvation Army in Arlington, Texas welcomed Ruben with big smiles and handmade signs.

[Ruben autographs picture done by summer day camp participant]
Christian, a summer day camper, drew a picture of a motorcycle for Ruben’s arrival. Ruben gladly autographed the drawing!

[Ruben's Run - DFW]
The kids even played Ruben, a former NFL pro, in flag football!

[Ruben Brown, Cedric James, Marc Colombo]
From right, Ruben Brown serves lunch at The Salvation Army’s Mabee Center homeless shelter in Fort Worth, along with Cedric James, a former NFL pro with the New England Patriots, and Marc Colombo a current player with the Dallas Cowboys.

Ruben’s next stop is across the state in El Paso, TX where he’ll visit The Salvation Army’s Emergency Shelter and later ride with local motorcycle groups to the Texas/New Mexico border. Keep checking our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages for updates.

You can help Ruben in his mission to raise awareness of and funds for Salvation Army programs! Just use your mobile phone to text the word “RUN” to 80888*. Ninety percent of all funds donated will go to support the work of The Salvation Army; the remainder will subsidize transportation expenses associated with the Run. Plus, donations will stay in the local community in which it was raised.

* A one-time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging and data rates may apply. Donations are collected for The Salvation Army by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 80888 to stop. Reply HELP to 80888 for help. For terms, see www.igfn.org/t

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Christine’s Closet, Part 6: DIY Fashion

Monday, July 25, 2011

Who says shopping has to hurt your wallet?

Christine Burton, our resident savvy shopper, is back in a new installment of the Western Territory Expect Change blog’s “Christine’s Closet” series.

This time Christine adds a do-it-yourself twist. After finding a beautifully decorated skirt for only $3.99 (before her discount!) at a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store, she’s inspired to create a custom top to match. With the help of her digital camera, a printer, and an iron-on transfer sheet, Christine’s sporting a style that’s truly all her own.

Click here to read the original post and see more photos at the Expect Change blog, along with previous posts in their Christine’s Closet series. They may provide you with some great ideas next time you visit our Family Thrift Stores!

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It’s Always Sunny Here Thanks to Walmart Volunteers

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Salvation Army Community Center in West Philadelphia is getting a much needed makeover, thanks to an all hands on deck volunteer effort by Walmart.

The project is part of the Walmart Foundation’s 5-year, $2 billion commitment to fight hunger in the U.S. with food donations, $250 million in grants at the national and local levels, and collaboration with government and non-profit organizations to reach more families in need.

300 Philadelphia-area Walmart volunteers are working this week to complete the renovation, which includes cleaning, painting, installation of new fixtures, artwork and shelving, and food and clothing donations. The volunteers are specifically focusing on updating the community center’s public spaces and food service/emergency response areas.

The Salvation Army is incredibly grateful for this support that will benefit individuals and families in need!

Visit The Salvation Army Philadelphia’s Facebook page (Salvation Army Philadelphia) and Twitter feed (@SalArmyPhilly) for project updates, and find more photos updated daily at Walmart Philadelphia’s page.

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1 Day + 1 Room = 1 Unbelievable Shelter Makeover

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits, Fayetteville Observer

Who among us has not watched a home decorating or makeover TV show, whether it be Trading Spaces, Design on a Dime, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, or something of the like?

It’s just plain fun to vicariously play the part of a designer and flex your creativity and problem-solving skills along with the cast. Perhaps the best part is when us viewers experience the joy of the lucky home owner when they see the big reveal.

Try to contain your excitement if you can because in Fayetteville, North Carolina, The Salvation Army is turning this television event into real life, and you can be a part of it.

They’re looking for amateur decorators, crafters and home improvement gurus to take part in The Salvation Army Shelter Design Challenge! Volunteer teams will have the opportunity to each redecorate 1 room of their Homeless Shelter.

If you have an eye for design, a heart that wants to help, and know how to stretch a budget, learn more about participating at www.salvationarmyfayetteville.org or visit their event page on Facebook. The public will be invited to walk through and vote for their favorite design on September 10.

And of course, the best part of it all will be saved for the 60+ homeless shelter residents who return that evening to a redesigned and redecorated space just for them!

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