Friday, October 22, 2010
Saturday, October 23 is “Make a Difference Day,” the nation’s largest single day of volunteerism according to USA Weekend magazine. One of the most recognized faces out there promoting the event is NBA Star Shaquille O’Neal. He’s a stellar athlete, reality TV entertainer, father, funny-man and…lifelong volunteer.
In a feature article Shaq attributed his personal emphasis on volunteering to the examples set by his parents. He even mentions one of the childhood experiences that had the most impact on him was he and his dad filling up an entire moving truck with blankets and clothes and driving it all down to a Salvation Army homeless shelter.
What are you doing Saturday? Maybe there’s a way you can join with the 3 million other Americans who will be working to make a difference. If you’re short on ideas, contact your local Salvation Army. They may be in need of food for their feeding kitchens, administrative help for holiday events, or searching for Christmas Red Kettle bell ringers. And just like Shaq said, it could be a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving back, even if you’re just dropping off some clothes to our Family Thrift Stores.
And volunteers are not just a help to people in need – they’re a huge help to charities who have also been feeling the pinch in the sluggish economy. We recently reported that the nation’s biggest charities, including ourselves, have seen an overall decline in giving as compared to last year. Another study found that for financial reasons more than a third of donors plan to cut back their giving for the remainder of the year, but they plan to show their support in other ways.
So especially when things are tight, it’s our volunteers who really help us make a difference by stretching our resources and services so that we reach as many people in need as possible! In whatever way you give back, thanks for making a difference. Thanks for helping The Salvation Army “do the most good.”
Friday, October 22, 2010
The Salvation Army is about to say goodbye to a very important pair at the end of this month – our national leaders Commissioners Israel and Eva Gaither!
They’re officially retiring following a four year assignment as National Commander and National President of Women’s Ministries, not to mention 40 dedicated years of Salvation Army service around the world.
Tonight, October 22 at 7:25pm EST, the Gaithers will be celebrating their retirement with a ceremony held at the Centennial Memorial Temple in NYC. Can’t make it to New York to take part in the festivities?
We’ve got you covered –the event will be streaming on live video at www.sallytube.org. Tune in tonight and help us wish farewell to our fearless leaders!
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
A new report shows that donations to the nation’s 400 biggest charities dropped 11% last year, the most significant decline in the 20 years it’s been tracked. Ranked #2 on the list, The Salvation Army was no exception to the decrease having seen an 8.4% cut in donations.
The effects of our country’s economic recession have put charities in a sort of Catch-22. More people are in need and the demand for assistance increases, but fewer resources are available to meet this demand.
We would like to point out though, that even though our total charitable donations fell during 2009, generous givers like you still contributed a record amount to our Christmas Red Kettles. Every little penny counts in our mission to indiscriminately meet human need, so thank you for digging deep!
As the holiday season approaches yet again, please consider how you might be able to help The Salvation Army serve others during this time of overwhelming need. Like the rest of the population, we aren’t immune to the economic hardships, but we are committed to “doing the most good” in all circumstances.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Who said there’s nothing good on TV these days? A reality show is the surprising inspiration for the latest Salvation Army initiative in Miami.
In the style of NBC’s “Biggest Loser,” men from The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Miami are competing to drop some serious pounds. As the ARC program helps them control their addictions, the friendly competition helps them gain control of their overall physical health!
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
It used to be that bullies could only flex their muscle during school hours, and the ring of the school bell released would-be victims to the safety of their homes, removed from conflict.
But today, technology contributes to cyber bullies having the 24/7 ability to expose hateful, personal or humiliating attacks before a virtual public platform, making the threat nearly impossible to get away from.
Tragically, as mourned by recent news headlines, several bright and talented young victims of cyber bullying have felt that the only true escape was to take their own lives.
What resources are available to help protect kids and young adults from the dangers of cyber bullying?
Earlier this year The Salvation Army partnered with Enough is Enough (EIE), the nationally leading organization in making the internet safer for children and families, to launch the Internet Safety 101 Program. It offers educational materials and online tools at www.internetsafety101.org to help adults and kids guard themselves from online dangers.
EIE President Donna Rice Hughes stated in an op-ed that 42% of kids have been bullied while online. That’s 42% too many.
Join with The Salvation Army in saying, “Enough is enough!” Visit www.internetsafety101.org or EIE’s website www.enough.org today.
Monday, October 18, 2010
More than 28 million kids have parents who work outside the home, and (Source: US Dept. of Labor) as many as 15 million kids have no place to go after school (Source: U.S. Census)
The hours between 3 and 6pm, when children generally get out of school and their parents get off of work, is when juvenile crime is most likely to occur. Law enforcement considers these hours a “danger zone.”
In the economically depressed Eastside community of St. Paul, Minnesota, The Salvation Army’s Eastside After-School program offers children a safe place to learn and play away from negative influence like drugs and gangs, while parents have peace of mind knowing their children are not on the streets when they’re still at work.
As a part of program’s homework help and tutoring sessions, local police officers serve as volunteers, helping provide positive influences and building relationships within the community.
Officer Robert Merrill has been a part of the program since 2008, spending a few hours every week helping young kids with their math, reading and writing assignments or whatever subject matter needs attention.
“The kids get to see police officers in an environment where they’re not dealing with a confrontational situation,” he said. “They see the more humane side of us. A lot of times their impression of law enforcement comes from them seeing us hauling people to jail and putting them into handcuffs. When kids and families see us [volunteering in their community], people might have a more positive view of our profession.”
For the officers, the learning process is reciprocal. Officer Merrill shared, “For me it’s allowed more insight into these kids’ lives than I’d normally have. They’re great kids, but they have a lot of struggles. We get to spend one-on-one time with them and they’ll tell you what’s going on in their lives outside of school. If we can offer them advice, steer them in the right direction, or help that stewarding of the theme of being able to helps and assist people, that the biggest reward I get out of it.”
The relationships and insight Officer Merrill’s gained has also translated outside of the classroom. Many officers unfortunately have had to deal with the same kids not only as students but also as crime victims. But, thanks to the foundation of trust that has begun to develop as a result of their interactions in the classroom, the children feel safer, more comfortable, and are more likely to cooperate with Merrill and other officers during times of crisis.
Regarding The Salvation Army’s Eastside After-School Program, Officer Merrill summed up, “There are not many programs like this around and certainly not in the neighborhoods of this city. It’s a program that will show [the kids] their education is important and that will hopefully lead to them being a proud member of society and keep them away from negative influences like gangs and crime. It’s a great program, and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
The Salvation Army thanks Officer Merrill and our other law enforcement volunteers for their invaluable investment of time into the youth of St. Paul and our Salvation Army programs.
How do after-school programs play a role in the life of you and your children? Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to visit our poll question on this topic. Hurry, today is the last day to answer before a new question is featured tomorrow!
Friday, October 15, 2010
You’re invited to celebrate with The Salvation Army of Philadelphia this Saturday, October 16 at the ribbon cutting of their new Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center! It’s the 9th center to open in the United States as a result of Mrs. Kroc’s generous gift in 2004, and it’s expected to double the Salvation Army’s social service impact in Philly, serving 750-1,000 people per day.
After the 1:30pm ribbon cutting, there will be a dedication ceremony, self-guided tours and free concert, along with the Center’s first worship service Sunday morning. They’re not wasting any time in opening their doors to the public, and after seeing the Kroc’s construction photos, we can’t WAIT to see the final product!
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And yes, the Center will be awesome. The three-pool Aquatic Center, two-story state-of-the art fitness center, multi-sport athletic field and community garden don’t even begin to describe all the amenities and opportunities the Kroc will offer Philadelphians. Plus, it’s going to create more than 400 jobs and $22 million in economic impact annually. I can’t think of a reason not to be excited!
We hope you can make it Saturday, and if not, find more information (and there’s a lot more interesting information that we can’t fit into this blog), visit www.SalvationArmyKrocCenter.org.
You can also find ongoing updates at The Salvation Army’s Philadelphia Kroc Center page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyPhiladelphia) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/SalArmyPhilly).
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The holidays are right around the corner, and many community Salvation Army units are searching for volunteers to assist with their seasonal activities and services. The holiday season is generally the busiest time for us and the extra hands lent by volunteers make all the difference in helping us stretch our service to people in need.
Can you find time, anywhere from one hour to a few days, to help The Salvation Army serve your community this season? Maybe you’d like to help with a toy drive, be a Christmas Red Kettle Bell Ringer, assist with meal distributions or just jump in wherever you’re needed most.
Visit your local Salvation Army’s website to see if they are offering information and sign-up for volunteer opportunities. If you don’t see anything online yet, just give your community’s unit a call and ask what you can do. You can find your nearest Salvation Army by visiting www.salvationarmyusa.org and typing in your zip code in the top menu bar’s “Locations” field.
Scott Bedio, Archivist for The Salvation Army USA’s National Headquarters, has volunteered as a Christmas Red Kettle Bell Ringer every holiday season for the past 20 years and believes “there’s no better way to give back.”
Over the years he’s come to recognize many of the faces who pass by and donate to his kettle season after season. He says many strangers even feel compelled to talk to him about their personal stories of how The Salvation Army has helped them in times of need.
One of Scott’s favorite parts of being a Bell Ringer is seeing what he calls “generational giving” – when children, parents and grandparents share in the tradition of donating to the red kettles. He also looks forward to when his son is old enough to participate with him in his annual bell ringing tradition.
For those of you who are considering being a first time Bell Ringer, Scott offered some great advice:
Dress in Layers. Standing out in cold weather can be the hardest part of bell ringing, so covering up from head to toe can help you endure the elements with less shivering.
Be Creative. People love to hear the bell, but you can also mix it up. Scott sometimes brings his tuba and plays Christmas music when he wants to give his hands a break from ringing. Others have also been known to sing!
It’s All About Your Rhythm. If you don’t want to wear out your arm, Scott advises to not overuse your arm and elbow when ringing by keeping your bell near your waist and focusing most of your movements in your hand. But the technique of bell ringing is flexible so feel free to work out a style of your own.
As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Scott what’s the most important thing people should know before they volunteer as a bell ringer?
After thinking a bit, he replied, “Have a smile on your face and enjoy the people. It’s a special time.”
Does this sound like something you’d like to be involved with? Contact your local Salvation Army today to get started.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Dallas Cowboys greats Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman announced that The Salvation Army will be the owner and operator of the newly announced Super Bowl XLV Youth Education Town (YET) in Arlington, TX.
The $2 million project will target homeless and at-risk youth in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, specifically those from neighborhoods that suffer from higher crime, drug, and gang activity levels.
The Salvation Army is honored to be a part of this initiative and have the opportunity to expand service to the community.
What exactly will the center have to offer? Everything from a fitness area and athletic fields to computer labs, music instruction, film and video production and more. Adult continuing education and drug prevention programs will also be offered, along with an expansion of The Salvation Army’s emergency financial assistance program, food pantry, and after-school programs. Learn more about NFL YETs here.
Officials say they even hope to finish it before the 2012 Super Bowl! Get more details at Dallas Morning News.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Did you know that 1 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day?
On Sunday, October 10 (10.10.10), an organization named Micah Challenge is bringing together 10,000,000 people through its worldwide Lend A Hand campaign which calls for united commitment to remembering and seeking justice for impoverished people. The Salvation Army World Services Office (SAWSO) is partnering with Micah Challenge in this commitment to the poor.
The Lend a Hand campaign comes in response to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals to reduce world poverty by half by 2015. The campaign is a push for individuals and world leaders to not give up on this promise.
If you’d like to ‘lend a hand’ to this effort, all you need to do is:
Lend a Hand Campaign 10.10.10
1. PRAY on 10.10.10 with millions around the world for justice for the world’s poor.
2. PROMISE to be part of bringing change and commit to living a life of justice. Symbolize this promise by making a hand-print!
3. PRESS your leaders for their wholehearted commitment to eradicating poverty. Mail your handprints to Micah Challenge, who will deliver these powerful symbols as a message to President Obama. (Send to: Micah Challenge USA, 17 SE 3rd Ave. #310, Portland, OR 97214)
To sign up, or to find more information and useful materials for the Lend a Hand Campaign, visit http://micahchallenge.us/action/lendahand.html.
Leaders and members of Salvation Army churches will find helpful resources on this page specifically dedicated to helping their congregations participate in this initiative: http://micahchallenge.us/action/salvation-army.html.
Thanks for your helping hands in the global fight against extreme poverty!