Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Washington Post reports that Washington, DC sports teams and athletes are increasingly focusing on charitable giving.
Staff writer Susan Kinzie says, “For reasons idealistic, self-serving or practical, athletes and teams are putting a greater emphasis on donating money, volunteering and helping local communities — with more commitment to providing real impact rather than just photo ops.”
As a DC resident, it’s nice to hear that my teams are giving back. Between the baseball, hockey, basketball and football teams, DC athletes are helping revitalize local neighborhoods, investing in cancer prevention, fighting hunger, supporting children’s education programs and addressing a load of other issues. With the unique voice and wide supporter base that comes with the territory, athletes have a great platform to get the message out on deserving causes and make lasting, positive impacts on communities and individuals.
I’ll admit though, sometimes I’m skeptical when I hear about big names pushing a cause. I wonder, do they really care about or have a genuine commitment to this issue they’re attaching themselves to? For me, sincerity is important.
What’s your take on athletes being active in philanthropy? Do you have a favorite athlete who’s an outspoken advocate for a charity or a cause? Does a sports/charity partnership make you more likely to support the members involved?
Felix Jones spends time coaching kids at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center in Tulsa, OK.
Felix Jones spends time coaching kids at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center in Tulsa, OK.
Since becoming a Salvation Army employee, I’m happy to say my skepticism has tempered after seeing athletes and teams from around the country give and serve generously through our organization in ways that have invaluably inspired and assisted those in need. Their collaboration with us has ranged from extended partnerships to isolated volunteer efforts. Some athletes have never been involved with the Army before, while others have actually been clients in our programs.
Maybe you root for some of the teams and players who have worked with us:
* Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys – He tutors students in ACT prep at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Boys & Girls Club in Tulsa, OK and has served as a role model in other programs. He’s also pledged $25,000 to the North Mabee Center. Why? He played football at North Mabee as a kid and personally knows what a great impact it has on the local community.
* Robert Meacham, New Orleans Saints – Young aspiring football players received personal tips on playing the game from this Super Bowl Champion during a summer sports camp at The Salvation Army’s North Mabee Center in Tulsa. Yep, Meacham also grew up playing ball at the center with Jones.
* Julius Erving, NBA Hall of Famer – The b-ball legend is an advocate for exercise and sportsmanship for youth in Atlanta, where he hit the basketball courts as a kid at The Salvation Army. One way he gives back is through his annual “Dr. J” Biddy Ball tournament hosted this year at The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center, with the help of other players including Cory Blackwell, Vincent Askew and Duane Causwell.
* Omaha Nighthawks (UFL) – These players not only helped establish two mentoring programs through a $25,000 donation to the Omaha Salvation Army Kroc Center, the Nighthawks also serve as mentors themselves! And they’re holding their training camp at the Kroc Center where kids and the community will have the opportunity to see their role models in action.
* Indianapolis Colts – From hosting Christmas toy drives to a $25,000 donation equally shared by The Salvation Army and 4 other non-profits, the Colts are community-focused. On top of that, their Senior VP Tom Zupancic just joined our Advisory Board!
* Philadelphia Eagles – When disaster struck Haiti, the team wanted to help. Eagles guard and Haiti native Max Jean-Gilles, Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan and Eagles employees volunteered to help The Salvation Army and Numana pack nutritious meals for earthquake survivors.
* Dallas Cowboys – For 13, going on 14, years the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game halftime show marks the official launch of our Red Kettle Christmas Campaign. The annual campaign has raised more than $1 billion since the partnership began in 1997 and has helped the Army to serve 30 million people each year nationwide. Plus, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, opened the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Center for Children – a Salvation Army child care center for low-income families in Irving, TX. Mr. Jones is now an Emeritus member of The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board and his daughter and wife are active board members.
Monday, August 30, 2010
This morning I was reading a few articles about President Obama’s commemoration of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The first family traveled to New Orleans where the President addressed Xavier University yesterday.
As the articles discussed the President’s official business in ‘The Big Easy,’ I found it interesting that most of them made it a point to mention the President’s lunch. His speech, visit to a local housing development, and even meetings with hurricane survivors did not overshadow his sumptuous shrimp po’boy.
Why was the seafood sub such a big deal?
A few thoughts:
1.The strength of small businesses gives a fair read on the pulse of the economy, and a mom & pop restaurant sure looks hopeful and healthy when you have the President as a patron. Plus, it’s exciting for locals!
2. Food is comfort, especially during hard times.
3. Identity is often linked to food. What better way to affirm a recovering community than to chow down on a traditional meal that represents what New Orleans is about?
In fact, The Times-Picayune recently ran an article about how Hurricane Katrina affected the New Orleans food culture.
Item #3 on the list: Locals’ Appreciation for Food Deepened.
The article quotes a director of a New Orleans non-profit as saying, “In a very intense, concentrated space of time, people found out what really mattered to them. Food became the most important rituals of our lives.”
Item #8 on the list: New Orleanians began cooking all over the country.
This point was most interesting to me since NPR just ran a segment that featured a displaced New Orleanian. Patrick Wooten and his family were air lifted to shelter when their neighborhood of Algiers flooded during the hurricane. They’ve permanently relocated to Plymouth, MA where Patrick now works as a chef at The Salvation Army. Though the setting is a lot different than New Orleans, Patrick keeps in touch with his Cajun roots by serving up home cooking at The Salvation Army kitchen. What a great way to remember and share his Creole culture!
Lucky for us, Patrick shared with NPR his Dirty Rice recipe that he made on Sunday to remember the 5th anniversary of Katrina. I’m including it below for anyone who’d like a New Orleans culinary lesson:
Recipe: Patrick Wooten’s Dirty Rice (Serves six)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound Andouille sausage
1/2 pound ham steak, cubed
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Uncle Ben’s white rice
o Brown the meat until beef is no longer pink.
o Add Worcestershire sauce.
o Remove meat from pan and saute vegetables in the leftover oil.
o Add cooked rice and more Worcestershire sauce to taste.
o While it cooks down, “sit and wait like a pit bull.”
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
As we approach the 5th year anniversary of Katrina, the nation is reflecting this week on tragedy that befell the Gulf Coast so many years ago and how the area has pressed on since. As an integral part of the community, The Salvation Army was there before the storm, and we were there after working to provide support and help rebuild.
The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi Division posted an album on their Facebook page that looks back at their efforts to help those in need during the immediate aftermath. From serving food to providing medical support, The Salvation Army was a shining light during a very dark time.
But as we think back on the past five years, we also continue to look forward.
As a part of continuing recovery efforts, The Salvation Army is investing in projects, communities and individual lives in order to help the area become even stronger than before.
“When the Winds Died Down” gives a personal look at how members of the Gulf Coast community found support and hope from The Salvation Army. We’ll continue to post a new video each day this week that delves further into each individual’s personal story and how The Salvation Army helped them rebuild.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
You’ve probably seen actor Bill Pullman in popular films such as Wyatt Earp, Independence Day, Spaceballs, Brokedown Palace or one of the many others in which he’s starred.
But most recently he’s been seen at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Oklahoma City.
While in town filming his next movie “Bringing Up Bobby,” Pullman happened to meet the club’s program director and was excited to receive an invitation to visit the boys and girls. Soon after, Pullman was standing in a Salvation Army gymnasium being peppered with questions about his acting career and other stars he knows.
It was an awesome time for the kids, but it seems like Pullman was just as eager to meet them!
Check out the video shot by local media outlet NewsOK to see a Pullman interact with The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club and talk about his latest acting venture.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Hurricane Katrina displaced almost all of the New Orleans population when it slammed the Gulf Coast five years ago. Studies show that only about half of the population had returned a year later, increasing to two-thirds by fall of 2007.
While living in southeast Texas, I was surprised by how many people I met during the year following Hurricane Katrina who were hurricane evacuees still waiting to return home. They said they either had no where left to go or the conditions just weren’t liveable. Some said they decided to not go back at all. These conversations made me realize that restoring New Orleans was more than just cleaning up debris and reconstructing buildings. The heart and soul of the ‘Big Easy’ was its residents, but its residents were finding it very difficult to be able to return and thrive back home.
The Salvation Army of New Orleans recognized this problem and launched EnviRenew, a strategy to renew communities through continued Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Envirenew began in 2006 and continues to find innovative ways to strengthen New Orleans.
Pictured is an affordable, energy efficient home built through EnviRenew. These units are helping revive New Orleans communities, and they’re also designed to withstand strong weather.
The initiative really is amazing. They’ve awarded $10 million in grants to help rebuild 5 New Orleans neighborhoods. They’re constructing affordable, green homes for those in need, improving quality of life and breaking down the high cost barriers that prevent most of these people from being able to return and rebuild. They’re also attracting teachers and first responders to the neighborhoods to make them even stronger. The whole approach is making a positive difference and has even gained expert support.
The interior of an EnviRenew home.
Even 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, The Salvation Army remains committed to help New Orleans progress from a “recovering” city to a “resilient” city. This week you can even have an opportunity to be a part of this!
This Thursday, August 26, The Salvation Army will host a co-sponsored event with FedEx called “The Resiliency Summit.” New Orleans leaders along with national and local experts will celebrate the progress made over the past 5 years and discuss what it will take to create a vibrant and sustainable future for New Orleans communities. This event is free and open to the public, but you have to sign up beforehand! Register here.
Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages for updates on this exciting event. For more information on Envirenew, visit their website at www.envirenew.org.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Today is National Thrift Store Day! What are you going to do to celebrate?
How about donating to or visiting a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store?
If you’ve been meaning to get rid of those extra clothes, books, and clutter taking up space in your house, today’s the perfect day to do it.
Or maybe you need to do some back to school shopping for your child’s clothes or dorm room essentials.
Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores provide a convenient way to recycle new or gently used items and our discounted prices are wallet-friendly, both great benefits for you and your family.
But your support of our Thrift Stores also significantly helps people in need!
Sales from our stores fund Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers where men and women can find treatment for alcohol and substance abuse, as well as learn life and employment skills that prepare them to re-enter society and the job market.
All great reasons to celebrate. Happy National Thrift Store Day!
Monday, August 16, 2010
Last week in Atlanta was a desperate scene as a crowd of 30,000 people gathered for the chance to receive a public housing assistance application. The throng spent hours enduring sweltering temperatures even though the city’s available public aid falls far short of the exceeding need. The situation is representative of the overall dire economic struggle faced by the city’s sizeable low-income population.
Around the same time the event made national headlines, The Salvation Army of Atlanta posted a video of a homeless mother who has found shelter and resources through their center. The assistance will keep her family off the streets and empower her to more quickly get back on her feet. The mother’s account shines as a positive contrast to the pessimistic news stories, showing hope available through The Salvation Army for those who have fallen into economic crisis.
The city’s need, though, has resulted in a significant increase in demand for services from The Salvation Army Atlanta and has put a strain on their operational resources. Staff has logged countless hours of overtime. They are fielding some 40,000 calls each day from metro Atlanta residents seeking relief and their phone systems are overwhelmed.
So that The Salvation Army does not have to turn away one person in need, they have launched a “Call to Action” campaign to raise $300,000 in additional funds by September 30, 2010 to help meet the needs of hurting callers.
Supporters can donate by:
– Clicking Here for a Secure Online Donation
– Phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY
c/o Call To Action
The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 49247
Atlanta, GA 30359
For more information on how you can help, visit The Salvation Army Atlanta’s website at www.salvationarmyatlanta.org or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and their blog.
Thank you for your help and consideration!
Friday, August 13, 2010
The headlines under the newspaper’s business section seem to leave us lacking in optimism as of late.
Participation in the nation’s food stamp program hit a record high of 40.8 million in May, continuing a pattern of record highs for 18 straight months.
U.S. unemployment for July remained unchanged at 9.5%.
With the job market still struggling, the U.S. Congress passed another unemployment benefits extension for Americans without work who are trying to support themselves and their families.
Increased need has resulted in unprecedented demand for social services at many non-profits and charities, including The Salvation Army.
Bill and Melinda Gates, top, and Warren Buffett, bottom, have encouraged billionaires to donate half or more of their fortunes to charity through an initiative called ‘The Giving Pledge.’
As mentioned in our National 2010 Annual Report, some local Salvation Army units have reported a demand for services more than 400% above normal. In Hickory, North Carolina, we’ve served 75,000 more people than this time last year. And one of our food pantries in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania serves up to 50 families per week, up from last year’s 15 families per week.
The good news is it seems that with increased need there’s also been a heightened call in general for philanthropic generosity.
Recently Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett announced an initiative called ‘The Giving Pledge,’ an effort to encourage American billionaires to give half of their wealth to charities or non-profits during their lifetime or after their death. It’s an interesting idea that they hope will “draw more people into philanthropy” and “continue for generations” to come. A list of pledge signers, including George Lucas, Ted Turner and T. Boone Pickens, is available at http://givingpledge.org.
What do you think of this idea? What causes would you like to see supported by these pledge signers?
It would be wonderful if this initiative did result in more resources reaching those most in need, but thankfully you don’t have to be a billionaire to make a difference.
In fact, I would argue that Salvation Army supporters are some of the most generous people out there. This year The Salvation Army’s Christmas Red Kettle donations soared to a record $139 million. That’s $9 million more than our 2008 record, another year in which the economy and logic suggested that donations would be down. And no, these donations did not come from billionaires. Most of it came in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from regular people with big hearts.
Though many Salvation Army offices were not (and are not) exempt from the strain of limited resources amidst escalating demand, The Salvation Army was able to provide help to nearly 30 million Americans last year thanks to our benevolent donors.
So while headlines may tempt us to feel dispirited, thankfully, as our supporters show us, there’s more to the story.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The Salvation Army has released its 2010 online annual report, available at http://www.salvationarmyannualreport.com/.
The theme of this year’s report is “Shine” – The Salvation Army strives to be a shining light of hope in communities nationwide. As we continue to navigate through difficult economic times, we’re encouraged by the stories we hear each day from across the country. Some of these stories are shared in this report — from an after school program in St. Paul, MN; to a GED course in Tucson, AZ; a family shelter in Akron, OH and a Boys & Girls Club in Tulsa, OK.
The people you see in these videos, from teenagers to an 80+ year-old woman, are telling their real, personal accounts of how The Salvation Army has helped them turn their lives around. Their stories are truly inspiring and stand as a reminder of why we do what we do every single day.
As one of the oldest and largest social service charities in the United States, The Salvation Army provided help to nearly 30 million Americans last year alone. During our previous fiscal year, The Salvation Army:
* Served 64 million meals to people in need
* Helped nearly 1 million Americans following disasters
* Sent 180,000 unprivileged kids to summer camp
* Counseled 370,000 individuals with drug and alcohol rehabilitation
Thank you for your support that has helped make our service possible. Learn more through our annual report about The Salvation Army’s diverse programs and services utilized by those in need last year.
And please help us spread the word – Tweet, Facebook and email the report to friends, family, neighbors – anyone who might want to learn that The Salvation Army is about a lot more than thrift stores and kettles! Check us out and find more information on:
* Facebook (www.facebook.com/SalvationArmyUSA)
* Twitter (www.twitter.com/salvationarmyus)
* National Website (www.salvationarmyusa.org)
Thanks again for your continued support of The Salvation Army!
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
More than 12,000 students in need across the country did their school supplies shopping today as a part of Target and The Salvation Army’s Back-to-School Spree!
Each participating child, selected by The Salvation Army, was awarded an $80 Target GiftCard to purchase much-needed back-to-school supplies, and they were paired with a volunteer chaperone to help them pick out their new items. Target has awarded all 40 of The Salvation Army divisions nationwide a total of $960,000 worth of Target GiftCards, an incredible donation that without which this event would not be possible.
We here at The Salvation Army National Headquarters had the great pleasure of attending the Back-to-School Spree that took place at the Target in Falls Church, VA this morning. It was a GREAT time!
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For more pictures from today’s Back-to-School Spree, visit The Salvation Army’s National Flickr page HERE.
The aisles of fresh notebooks, colorful markers, and shiny backpacks generated pure excitement in the faces of the kids as they perused the shelves with their Salvation Army volunteer chaperones. 30 local area children ranging from grade levels K-12 participated at this location. For many of them it was the first time they’ve ever bought brand new school supplies, but this year they’ll be able to start the upcoming academic year prepared and confident.
With a full shopping cart, 5th grader Quentin confirmed his readiness, especially for his favorite class math. He made sure to purchase a ruler, pencils, and plenty of erasers. “It was good. I feel grateful. I don’t have to go back and get more because I got all of it,” he told me.
7th grader Ty-anna’s grin gave away her excitement. Armed with new supplies Ty-anna said, “I won’t be behind at school. This has helped me a lot. It makes me really happy.”
A smiley 3rd grader named We’am recognized that while she had fun shopping, she knew it was also helping out her mom who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford new school supplies for We’am and her siblings.
Salvation Army Officer Captain Vance Murphy said, “It was neat watching the kids’ faces light up and listen to them talk about what they were going to buy. I don’t know who gets more out of this – the kids or volunteers.”
Major Steve Morris from The Salvation Army’s National Area Command believes the benefits are shared evenly. “I think every volunteer here has said they’ve made a new friend. It’s more than just, ‘let’s go do this job.’ There’s a relationship built. That’s the Army’s touch. It’s equally beneficial.”
His idea seemed to be proven by a particular Salvation Army volunteer and 8th grade shopper who both share the name Toni. As they checked out with the Target cashier, it was hard to tell who was more excited about the day’s shopping. 8th grader Toni said she couldn’t believe the generosity shown by Target and The Salvation Army, and especially her volunteer chaperone whom she had just met less than a few hours earlier. “I’m so happy! I’m so thankful!” she bubbled. Her chaperone added, “I’m in ecstasy with her joy. Her expression was worth every moment!” The two gave each other an emotional hug before heading outside with their bags.
Thanks to Target’s generous partnership, today’s Back-to-School Spree was a huge success. Thousands of needy kids across the country are now prepared and excited to start their school year, while volunteers left equally inspired. Thank you to everyone who participated today, especially Target, who has shown a strong commitment to supporting children and education.
For more pictures from today’s Back-to-School Spree, visit The Salvation Army’s Flickr page here.
P.S. We heard that at a Back-to-School Spree in Altoona, Pennsylvania some lucky kids got to shop with some local heroes! Players from the Altoona Curve, the area’s minor league baseball team, came out to volunteer as chaperones. See photos of pitcher Justin Wilson and pitcher Dustin Mollekin on our Flickr site here.