Thursday, December 30, 2010
Today we’re sharing another moving story from The Salvation Army Massachusetts, as told by Donor Relations Director Larry Grazio. It’s an amazing account of a boy who truly had nothing. But now that he’s grown up and successfully established, he never forgot the support and love shown him by The Salvation Army during his darkest times.
He got his clothes from a Salvation Army thrift store. He got his food from a Salvation Army pantry and the first Christmas gift he ever received came from a Salvation Army Officer. He literally has walked in the shoes of the poorest of the poor. These experiences as a child had such a profound effect on him and created empathy so deep that, today, he is one of the most generous donors to The Salvation Army of Massachusetts. So modest is this man though that he does not want his name publicized – so I’ll call him Michael.
Michael escaped with his mother from an Eastern European Communist country. Unfortunately the Communists killed his father, older brother, three uncles and a nephew. He immigrated to New York City because he had been told that the streets there were paved with gold. When he got there, however, he quickly learned differently–to survive, he had to eat out of garbage cans. Then he found The Salvation Army, and his life began to change.
Eventually, he moved to Boston where he got his first job: selling magazines door-to-door in the Uphmans Corner area of Dorchester.
Today Michael is an extremely generous, Godly man who owns a successful investment company. He has always told me if we need help, just let him know; and he has always come through. His concern for the basic needs of the poor is so real that if Michael makes a designated gift for a special capital project, he will always make a gift of equal size for basic services. Michael puts people above projects.
As a young boy, Michael was given a scholarship to attend The Salvation Army’s Camp Wonderland in Sharon, MA. He told me that in those days all the boys put Brylcreem or Vitalis Hair Tonic in their hair to slick it back, but because he was so poor, he could not afford that. So one day he put lard in his hair and combed it all back. Getting on the bus that day for camp, he was very proud. He sat down in his seat for the ride to camp, and then….the sun shone through the window…. and the lard melted all down his face. He was mortified by his desperation to hide his extreme poverty.
However, he proudly told me this last story: he was playing baseball at camp; it was the 9th inning, two outs, his team was losing. He came to the plate. With a full-count, he hit a dramatic game-winning walk off home run– but fell rounding second base and broke his arm. The camp counselors took Michael to the hospital. When he got there, the Red Sox were also losing in the 9th inning with three men on. At that moment, Ted Williams came to the plate – just like Michael – and hit a game-winning walk off grand slam – just like Michael – and won the game – just like Michael! Michael was feeling pretty special right about then! Despite having broken his arm that day, Michael will tell you that “that baseball game was one of his single best childhood memories”.
This past August, TSA of MA had a matching gift challenge that Michael participated in with a generous gift. Now, as the year is coming to a close, he read that gift income is down, need is up and more people than ever before are asking for our help with the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing.
In yet, another act of extraordinary kindness, Michael called to offer us a $175,000 matching challenge grant to encourage other donors – first-time or long-time — to continue to help those in need because he knows what it’s like to feel that kind of pain, fear and desperation.
Although Michael no longer gets his clothes from a Salvation Army Thrift Store or his food from a Salvation Army food pantry, he has never forgotten the help The Army gave him. He just wants to make sure that The Army can continue to provide help to those in need – the way they provided for him so many years ago.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
[Brett and Deana Favre pose with one of the families they sponsored through The Salvation Army.]
Brett and Deana Favre pose with one of the families they sponsored through The Salvation Army. (Photo: Craig Dirkes)
The Salvation Army’s Northern Division (serving Minnesota and North Dakota) shared this story of holiday generosity with us and we couldn’t pass up sharing it with you.
This Christmas the Salvation Army Northern Division wanted to give needy families and individuals in the Twin Cities food baskets with all the fixings for a proper Christmas dinner.
However, they knew it wouldn’t be easy. Their food pantries have seen a 30% – 150% increase in demand since 2008. Plus, they received assistance requests from 1,000 more families this year than they did last, but donations were down nearly half a million dollars.
So the Army launched a fundraising effort with a goal of $60,000 in order to provide food for 2,000 families…but they only raised $300.
Then they received a call from Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre’s and his wife Deanna’s community outreach rep. The couple wanted to adopt some families through The Salvation Army’s Adopt-a-Family Program and wanted to know what other ways they could help. After hearing about the Army’s food baskets plan, they donated the entire $60,000 out of their personal funds to cover the project. Thanks to their generosity, 2,000 families and individuals received two boxes stuffed full of food.
[Brett and Deana Favre hang out with families at a private meet and greet.]
Brett and Deana Favre hang out with families at a private meet and greet. (Photo: Craig Dirkes_
Plus, they adopted four families in need, all of whom were in some way battling cancer, an issue close to Deanna Favre’s heart.
Not only did Brett and Deanna purchase generous presents for each sponsored family, they set up a meet and greet at the Vikings practice facility where kids and parents got to hang out with the star couple.
When asked why he supported The Salvation Army programs, Favre said he strongly believed it’s much better to give than to receive.
The Salvation Army Northern Division posted photos here on their Flickr page.
We don’t know how to say thank you enough to the Favres for their kindness! The Salvation Army is blessed by their generosity and it helped bring a very happy close to the year for thousands of our clients.
Favre chats and signs an autograph for a young fan. (Photo: Craig Dirkes)
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Do you ever wonder, “Who are those people who so faithfully ring the bells alongside Salvation Army Red Kettles every holiday season? What is it that motivates each of them to serve?”
What makes many of these faithful servants unique is that many bell ringers have been on the other side of the social service system. They have first-hand experience at homelessness and going without – bell ringers like Peter Adup, one of the “lost boys” from Sudan who escaped to the U.S. as a teenager when his entire family perished due to political strife. He has no immediate family left, but The Salvation Army has become his family.
He currently resides at a Salvation Army homeless shelter, where he’s working to get back on his feet with gainful employment – perhaps even as a Salvation Army officer one day! In his free time, he volunteers every chance he gets, including as a bell ringer.
Peter Adup is recognized as Southern California’s “Bellringer of the Year.” (Photo from Salvation Army of Southern California’s Facebook album.)
For three years in a row now he’s been stationed at one of the highest trafficked kettles in Los Angeles.
Due to his contagious smile and amazing energy, his has one of the most successful kettles in town.
Despite all of the hardship Peter has faced in his home land – or perhaps because it – Peter’s desire is to pursue full-time ministry and return to Africa as a missionary.
His amazing attitude and contagious energy are evident to all, and those are just a few of the reasons the Southern California Division has named him “Bell Ringer of the Year.”
His is an inspiring story of triumphing despite all odds.
Information submitted by Dawn Wright from The Salvation Army USA’s Southern California Division. Thanks Dawn!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Christmas may be over, but that doesn’t mean the spirit of Christmas has to be. Today we’re sharing with you stories of many ordinary people who have done extraordinary things to give back to those in need. If you ever think that you don’t know what you can do to foster change, we hope you’ll be encouraged by these stories of individuals of all different ages and means who find creative ways to help others.
Lynn Smith (Photo: WAVE News)
A SPECIAL BIRTHDAY WISH
Lynn Smith of Kentucky has for years adopted angels through The Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree program. But this year, as she turns 50, she wanted to do something extra special – so Smith adopted 50 angels! She enlisted about 40 friends to help as their birthday present to her.
Mary Timmons was hesitant to take up bingo because she viewed it as gambling. However, she knew exactly what she wanted to do with the money. For the past six months, the 97-year-old has been saving all of her 50-cent bingo winnings in order to donate it to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraiser. This December she dropped more than $40 in quarters into a Red Kettle outside her local Walmart.
Bob and Betty Haldeman (Photo: John Carrington/ Savannah Morning News)
For several years Bob and Betty Haldeman have created a winter wonderland of Christmas lights on their lawn (and the lawns of their neighbors) to be enjoyed by the public. They play Christmas music, serve free coffee and hot chocolate, and collect donations for The Salvation Army Red Kettle fundraiser. Over the past 12 years with their light display they’ve collected $50,000 for the campaign!
Dan and Denise Costa of Modesto, CA have volunteered with The Salvation Army since the 1970’s. They were instrumental in creating the annual “Thanks-For-Giving” event for people in need held at the Modesto convention center. Unlike a traditional food line, the event mirrors the experience of a 4-star, fine dining restaurant with linen table cloths, garnished tables, plated dinners, music and entertainment, games for kids, and full table service. Dan and Denise even write letters to the public and collection donations to fund the dinner so that it comes at no cost to The Salvation Army. More than 1,000 people enjoy “Thanks-For-Giving” each year.
SMALL COINS REAP BIG GAINS
The Salvation Army of Greensburg recently concluded its first ‘World’s Largest Kettle’ Campaign, a program aimed at filling the world’s largest Salvation Army kettle with 5.4 million pennies. While the program did not succeed at filling the entire kettle, $20,000 was raised in pennies in just one day. Donors to the program ranged from young children who contributed just a few pennies, to a man who had been saving pennies since 1963 and was looking for a special avenue to share those pennies. A local middle school had homerooms compete against each other and collected 963 pounds of pennies—an estimated $1,500.00. A local bartender collected more than 75 pounds of pennies from tips and other loose change left at the bar.
Salvation Army Captain Deborah Weigner dropped off 35 Angel Tree tags at the local Walmart in Corry, PA for shoppers to sponsor a child a need before Christmas. When she returned to the store another day, the service desk attendant informed her that every single child’s wish list had been taken care of. An anonymous Ohio business owner had come through the store and seen the tags. He took each one and employed the help of other shoppers to buy everything on the tags, stating “No child shall be left behind this Christmas.” He spent more than $1,400 to make sure that they would all have a merry Christmas.
Friday, December 24, 2010
We’re in holiday crunch time with only one day to go til Christmas! To help keep the holiday cheer alive, we’re sharing this hilarious encounter by Mr. Bean with a Salvation Army brass band. Enjoy!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
One of the things I love most about Christmas is the many classic holiday tales that are told every year and yet never seem to get old. There’s Clement Clarke Moore’s poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, Dr. Seuss’ beloved How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and, if you want to count animated classics, those great TV specials featuring Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
This year I have a new favorite. It really isn’t a Christmas story at all, but it has all the makings of one, and best of all, it’s true.
In The Chicago Tribune, Rex Huppke admitted to having a “bah humbug” attitude when he hears the ringing of Salvation Army hand bells. More specifically, he said he’d like to “gather them up and throw them all into Lake Michigan.”
To make it worse, he made it his personal mission to “rid the world of unsolicited street ringing.” Who is this guy, the long lost cousin of the Grinch?
But as Huppke adamantly pursues his Scrooge-like quest against The Salvation Army, he has an epiphany that leads him to a complete change of heart. We might even say “it grew three sizes that day!”
We highly recommend you give the article a read. We’ve linked to it here. Even if you enjoy the sound of Salvation Army Bellringers, Huppke’s insight offers a poignant reminder of the purpose behind this holiday tradition.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Have you heard of Jumo? It’s a new social networking site for charitable organizations and people who want to make a difference.
Jumo means “together in concert” in the West African language Yoruba. The site is named appropriately so because its purpose is to make it easy for you to connect with organizations and issues you care about, follow the latest updates, and support your favorite causes.
The Salvation Army USA already has our own page on Jumo here.
It’s great because it grabs our online social activity from the various reaches of the web, organizes them in this one stop shop, and then adds in a few links to related charities and projects Jumo thinks you’d like. It’s a virtual dashboard of philanthropy tailored to you.
So get connected and get involved with us on this social site for a cause! Whether your cause is homelessness or hunger, social justice or education, arts or something else, follow us at Jumo and learn how The Salvation Army is serving needs in these areas every day across the country.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Was that Fabio – THE Fabio – pushing carts full of toys through the store checkout lane?
Yes, in fact, it was!
The flowing-haired star teamed up with The Salvation Army to provide gifts for hundreds of kids in San Francisco as a part of a Christmas shopping spree sponsored by Dig Deep SF.
The Salvation Army Western Territory has the scoop on their Expect Change blog here.
Monday, December 20, 2010
[NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd]
NASCAR driver Morgan Shepherd (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Morgan Shepeherd is a NASCAR legend. At 69, he’s the oldest active driver in the sport, but he plays hard and endures the driving’s intense physical demands, doing it for the love of the race. He mostly does it, though, for his love of God.
Shepherd says his life was turned around in 1975 when God rescued him from a self-destructive lifestyle of alcoholism and delivered him to a life of victory. Now Shepherd continues to live his life for God and shares his good news through Victory in Jesus Racing Ministries and charitable fund.
Salvation Army officers from Cincinnati drove to Wilmington, NC to help Shepherd with the event.
The Salvation Army had the privilege of teaming up with Shepherd last week as he visited Wilmington, NC during the second leg of a charity trip. During the day’s event, fans came out to meet Shepherd and get up close and personal with his race equipment, including his race hauler and his Victory In Jesus #89 race car.
Shepherd’s Victory in Jesus #89 race car
If you look carefully at the car, you’ll see something that we think is pretty cool – The Salvation Army logo and our “Doing the Most Good” slogan!
Shepherd said while many people know The Salvation Army is “Doing the Most Good” during the holidays, he wants to spread the word that we serve those in need all year long.
“They change lives in the spirit of the Lord. I’d like to try to help them help others as much as possible.”
We’re proud to partner with Shepherd and encourage you to learn more about his unique ministry at www.racewithfaith.com.
And next time you watch a NASCAR event, look for our shield whipping around the race track!
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thousands of you turned out or tuned in online to our first Rock the Red Kettle Concert. Thanks for the awesome support and donations! By the way, we love, love, LOVE all of your photos that have been tagged on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter.
If you haven’t posted your pics yet, what are you waiting for? Tag them as The Salvation Army USA to have them linked on our Facebook page (SalvationArmyUSA) or use #RocktheRedKettle for Twitter and Twitpic. We want to see them!
Check out these shots that have already been posted by fans:
[Americana at Brand stage. Photo by @LaurenKate22]
Here’s where it all happened, at the Americana at Brand. Pic posted on Twitter by @LaurenKate22
Hanging out with New Hollow! Pic posted on Twitter by @CJAnderson626
[Emily Osment Flickr photo by lisa_hiser]
Emily Osment was a hit with the crowd. Flickr Photo posted by lisa_hiser
[One Call Flickr photo by lisa_hiser]
One Call proved to be great singers AND serious dancers. Flickr photo by lisa_hiser
[Ashlyne Huff Flickr photo by lisa_hiser]
Ashlyne Huff sang her hear out. Flickr photo by lisa_hiser
[Honor Society Flickr photo by Lisa_Hiser]
The night ended on a great note with Honor Society. Flickr photo by lisa_hiser