Running Bare Because They Care

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What lengths would you go to to raise awareness for the homeless? Would you get *nearly* naked?

Stripping down has become an annual tradition for University of Iowa students and community members in the charitable walk/run called the Nearly Naked Mile, but at least the PG event is for a good cause! Instead of paying an entrance fee, participants take off their extra clothing before the race to be donated to The Salvation Army.

The third annual Nearly Naked Mile is being held this Saturday with a goal of raising more than 500 pounds of clothing.

It will be a chilly jog, but the goose bumps are worth it! To register or check out pictures of last year’s costumed participants, click here.

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Energy Company Joins in Fight to Empower Those in Need

Monday, February 28, 2011

The national average cost of gas is $3.189/ gallon. (Ouch.)
This is expected to increase in the near future. (Double ouch.)
There’s also talk of the cost of food, clothes, and services increasing as a result. (Enough already!)
Finances are tight enough, and now there’s news that they’re going to get even tighter. For the many low income Americans who are already struggling to make ends meet, how do they not get swallowed by financial burdens, especially if they’re already behind?
I was excited to hear about a partnership between Consumers Energy and The Salvation Army’s Western Michigan & Northern Indiana Division that will empower clients to take control of their finances, starting with their energy bills.
Consumers Energy has donated $1 million to start a pilot program with the Army to help low income clients who are behind on their utility accounts. With this funding the Army will hire several case managers to basically create an attack plan against their debt. The case managers will work with people in need by 1.) thoroughly reviewing their household budgets 2.) setting financial goals and 3.) equipping them to better manage their finances overall and in turn effectively maintain their utility accounts.
It’s a great start to helping people escape the cycle of recurring need. Just tackling one small area of debt goes a long way in empowering people to take control in other areas of their finances.
This Salvation Army Division already serves 20,000 clients a year who are unable to pay their utility balance, so we’re grateful for Consumer Energy’s partnership in seeing significant need and helping us do something about it.
To read more about the pilot program, click here.

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Christine’s Back with a New Look!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Christine Burton of The Salvation Army’s Western Territory is back with a new stylish outfit she put together with a little help from her local Salvation Army Family Store.

This feminine western look was made possible by a pair of brand new $5 white cowboy boots and red skirt, a la Barbara Stanwyck in television’s The Big Valley. Both items were picked up at the store in Christine’s neighborhood for a grand total of about $10!

Click here to see Christine’s latest outfit.

Click here to read about Christine’s shopping strategy and see her first look.

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Life in the Fast Lane: NASCAR Driver Makes Kids’ Dreams Come True

Thursday, February 24, 2011

We thought it was generous of NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd to put a huge Salvation Army logo on the hood of his race car, but Shepherd didn’t stop there.

[Dijonae (left) and Kevante’ (right) got the full NASCAR experience as VIP guests of driver Morgan Shepherd.]
Dijonae (left) and Kevante’ (right) got the full NASCAR experience as VIP guests of driver Morgan Shepherd.

He made sure siblings Kevante’ (10) and Dijonae (12) got VIP treatment this weekend when he invited them to watch the race as his special guests and get the full experience of the track.

Kevante’ and Dijonae are involved in several Salvation Army youth programs and local to Daytona. When they learned about the opportunity to meet Shepherd, they jumped at the chance. These kids have always been NASCAR enthusiasts, but this is the first race they’ve ever attended.

[Kevante’s ready to take Shepherd’s #89 Salvation Army car for a spin.]
Kevante’s ready to take Shepherd’s #89 Salvation Army car for a spin.

“He’s wanted to be a NASCAR driver since he first learned about stock car racing”, said his Kevante’s grandmother Renese.

Maybe he hasn’t quite grown into that driver’s seat yet, but he looks like he belongs behind the wheel!

“I’ve seen every race, I know all the drivers and their stats, and I can’t wait to go under the tunnel to experience it all,” Kevante said.

[“The Salvation Army car” gets a check up under the hood alongside several others in the NASCAR garages.]
“The Salvation Army car” gets a check up under the hood alongside several other cars in the NASCAR garages.

And experience it they did! Besides getting behind the wheel of Morgan’s #89 Salvation Army car, the kids toured pit row and even met other NASCAR Champions and drivers.

[The kids, pictured with Morgan Shepherd (center) and local Salvation Army officers, tour the track before the race.]
The kids, pictured with Morgan Shepherd (center) and local Salvation Army officers, tour the track before the race.

Wow. There is no better way for fans to experience NASCAR! Thanks, Morgan, for giving these kids an experience they’ll remember the rest of their lives.

Shepherd loved providing this opportunity for Kevante’ and Dijonae. Though he may not have a major sponsor, making it difficult for him to compete, Shepherd knows millions of Americans are suffering from the slow economy. That’s why he and his team are doing the best they can to promote The Salvation Army and what we do to assist those in need.

[Decked out in their new NASCAR gear courtesy of Morgan Shepherd, Dijonae and Kevante’ look like NASCAR pros!]
Decked out in their new NASCAR gear courtesy of Morgan Shepherd, Dijonae and Kevante’ look like NASCAR pros!

We think what Shepherd is doing is so great that we plan to partner with him in more races! We’ll keep you in the loop, and you keep an eye out for our Red Shield zooming around more tracks soon.

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It’s a Record: $142 Million in Giving!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank you, America! The Salvation Army raised $142 million in Christmas Red Kettles during the 2010 season, setting a record for the sixth straight year!

This is great news considering how much more need we’ve seen across the country, and these funds will go to support our many programs year round.

Wow. It was a busy Red Kettle season, to say the least. We used many of our traditional efforts, from the volunteer bell ringers you probably saw on every corner, to our annual Thanksgiving Day Kickoff at Cowboys Stadium. Plus, we had a few new ideas up our sleeves, like our Rock the Red Kettle Concert and a new iPhone app.

When it all comes down to it, though, we couldn’t have done any of this without you. Thank you for your generosity. And thanks to our many corporate partners for your continued support. We’re very grateful for all of your help with assisting those in need!

If you’d like to know more about our record Red Kettle Season, check out our official press release here.

Or if you’re more of a visual person, you may prefer this cool fact sheet:

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Their Tweets Give the Homeless A Voice. What Can Yours Do?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

As much as people like to bash social media, sites like Facebook and Twitter have played crucial roles during recent global events.

From serving as the one of the very few connections between earthquake-shaken Haiti and the outside world, to helping organize revolutionary protests in Egypt, social media is proving to the world stage that hey, maybe there’s more to this than just letting virtual friends know the scoop on our relationship status.

There’s a lot of good that can come from this stuff if we use it well.

A few New York interns appear to have already figured that out. As a part of their project “Unheard in New York,” these interns gave four NYC homeless men their own prepaid cell phones and Twitter accounts with the purpose of helping them tell their stories. Every day Danny, Derrick, Albert and Carlos tweet about what it’s like to live on the streets, the struggles they face, and how they came to be homeless. From once feeling like they didn’t have a voice, they now have thousands of people following, talking with, and learning from them on Twitter.

If these tweets can give a voice to the homeless, what can your tweets do? How can your Facebook status become more than just the status quo? We want to hear your ideas for using social media to do good.

I’d like to suggest one way you can get started – connect with The Salvation Army online. We’re on Facebook (The S alvation Army USA) and Twitter (@SalvationArmyUS). We share how we’re serving people in need every day and opportunities for you to be a part of it.

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NASCAR’S Morgan Shepherd Invites Kids To Tour Pit Row

Friday, February 18, 2011

Less than 24 hours to go til race day at Daytona and The Salvation Army will be front and center, displayed on the hood of NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd’s #89 car. (Haven’t heard about this yet? Get updated at our original blog post here.)

Rumor has it it’s already been nicknamed “The Salvation Army car” at the race!

Plus, two kids from our local Salvation Army programs, siblings Kevante’ and Dijonae, get to attend Saturday’s race as special guests of Morgan Shepherd. Racers are even planning to hold the race for a few minutes so Kevante’ and Dijonae can walk through the track and see the cars. It’s going to be an awesome experience!

Be sure to watch the race and cheer extra loud (even if you’re tuning in from your living room) for Morgan and his Salvation Army car. Check our blog next week for photos and updates about the event, including feedback from Kevante’ and Dijonae.

The Salvation Army wants to say a huge THANK YOU to Morgan for “donating his hood” to us, and we also want to say CONGRATS! He was inducted into the Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame this past Monday.

Good luck Saturday. We’re rooting for you!

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Kindness Challenge

Friday, February 18, 2011

We need your help!

USA TODAY has launched the “#KindnessChallenge,” a Twitter campaign for charity. The top charity tweet-getters with the most creative ideas or goals from fans about how they’re supporting their favorite nonprofits will be featured in a story in USA TODAY.

Will you show your support for The Salvation Army? There’s only a few hours left – you have until 6pm ET tonight (Feb 18) – but here’s what you can do:

Finish the following sentence on Twitter:

“My #USATODAY #KindnessChallenge goal is to help (insert full name of charity or that charity’s twitter handle)….”

To support us, tweet:

“My #USATODAY #KindnessChallenge goal is to help @SalvationArmyUS …” and then let the world know what you plan to do! Need a few ideas? How about:

“…feed the hungry by donating food from my community garden.”

“…raise funds be recruiting all my friends to ring at Christmas Red Kettles.”

“…by shopping only at their Thrift Stores for a month.”

Get creative, and you can even have your friends retweet your messages.

For the complete list of rules, visit USA Today’s Kindness Blog here.

Thanks for Tweeting!

Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS

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A Community Investment

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Any time a new Kroc Corps Community Center opens somewhere in the country, we get excited just thinking about all the great programs and services that the local area will soon experience. Whether it’s fitness classes, job training courses, or after school programs, it’s overwhelming just to think about all the opportunities available. We believe the late Mrs. Joan Kroc would be very proud to see how her vision and generous endowment has developed from one Kroc Center in San Diego, CA to a growing network of Kroc Centers across the country, each deeply invested in their local communities.

This week I came across a story from The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division’s blog about the Kroc Center under construction in Chicago. Though it’s not slated to open until 2012, the Kroc is already investing in the community, as well as allowing the community to invest in the Center.

Eight local residents have already completed a construction training program sponsored by the Kroc’s general contractor, and their first job very well may be helping build the Kroc Center itself! It’s a unique opportunity for these individuals to become invested in the Kroc on a whole different level.

According to Chicago’s blog, the Kroc Center will create 220 construction jobs for locals during its two-year construction phase and another 200+ permanent jobs once it’s open. Read more about how the Kroc is benefiting the Chicago area even before it’s open, here at The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division’s blog.

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Reaching the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What would you do if you needed significant, life-changing help, but you were unable to communicate with those you depended upon for that help?

The Detroit Free Press reports there are about 655,500 deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Michigan, and it’s believed that the prevalence of alcohol abuse within the population is akin to that of the hearing community (They say about 1 in 5 people ages 12 yrs. and up have admitted to binge drinking once within a 30 day span).

Treatment for substance abuse, and even the getting to the point of being ready to seek treatment, is extremely difficult – and that’s an understatement. But those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing may face even more challenges on the road to recovery, especially in Michigan where funding falls short and there’s a lack of therapists and counselors trained in American Sign Language (ASL).

In Monroe, Michigan, The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center is filling this gap through its Deaf and Hard of Hearing Treatment Program. It’s the only day treatment program in the state that serves the needs of deaf or hard of hearing individuals with a substance abuse problem. It staffs certified and accredited interpreters and even offers a housing component for clients.

Richie Najor is one individual who receives assistance from the The Salvation Army’s Program. With one-on-one treatment from his fluent ASL therapist, Najor has been more successful in controlling his cravings and even holds down a good job.

Read more about his experience and The Salvation Army’s work in addressing the deaf community’s needs in the Detroit Free Press’ “Deaf have few options in drug, alcohol fight.”

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