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.
Monday, August 9, 2010
The Salvation Army in Cincinnati announced it received a contribution of almost $1100 – all in coins! The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, had been collecting his ‘pocket change’ in an over-sized, plastic Coca-Cola bottle. It took a few days to process all the coins, which included everything from pennies to Susan B. Anthony dollar coins. The final tally came to $1092.06 and will be used for social services programs in the local community.
“Over the years, I would always just throw my pocket change and miscellaneous coins in this big old Coke bottle, and it eventually filled up,” stated the donor. “I found out that there wasn’t any easy way to count all those coins, or run it through a machine, so I had the idea to donate it to The Salvation Army, anticipating they have coin counters for the donations they receive in the kettles every Christmas.”
“The Salvation Army is delighted with every contribution that helps us fulfill our mission,” stated Matt Pearce, Divisional Development Director for The Salvation Army. “This certainly is a unique contribution, but it added up to be very substantial, and we’re very grateful that the donor thought of The Salvation Army.”
Information provided by Bill Schinkal of The Salvation Army’s Southwest Ohio and Northeast Kentucky Division.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Congratulations to the newest graduates of The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program in Louisville, Kentucky! Chef Timothy Tucker’s program marked its 5th anniversary last week with a ceremony recognizing 10 more individuals who have successfully completed the intensive, hands-on courses. The students, all of whom are either homeless or living below the poverty line, began their classes about 10 weeks ago with little to no knowledge of the kitchen and now are equipped with the skills they need to be competitive candidates for employment in the food and hospitality industry.
And as an exciting Program first, alumni Jackson Hodges was awarded a two year scholarship valued around $40,000 to Sullivan University where has the opportunity to study either culinary arts or baking and pastries!
Chef Tucker’s program has been gaining attention around the community and across the country for its innovative way of fighting homelessness and poverty. This formally-trained chef left a lucrative career and joined The Salvation Army, where he’s invited the disadvantaged and destitute to join him in the kitchen. As they work over cutting boards and stove tops, there’s more than just great food being served. Somewhere along the way the students have cooked up hope, empowerment, and a permanent solution towards self-sufficiency.
Read more about The Salvation Army’s Culinary Training Program on our Salvation Army national blog here and at the Culinary Program’s websites www.cheftimothytucker.com and www.cheftimothytucker.blogspot.com. You can also show them your support by following them on Facebook!
Again, congratulations grads! We can’t wait to see the many opportunities that await you.
Friday, August 6, 2010
The Salvation Army Kroc Center in Kerrville, TX is well on its way to completion, and with the exciting progress we’ve seen in construction thus far, we can hardly wait until its official opening in less than 3 months! The Center is going to be an awesome addition to Texas’ beautiful Hill Country.
The Kroc Center already has its own website up with information about the Center’s history, facilities, church schedule, membership rates, photos, and a future blog. Check it out at http://kerrvillekroc.org/.
And it’s obvious The Salvation Army is excited for the Kroc Center to be a part of the Kerrville community – its Facebook page is blowing up every day with posts about fun events and community services available around the area. Stay up to date by finding ‘Kerrville Kroc Center’ on Facebook and add it to your Page Favorites!
Salvation Army Capt. Brett Meredith spoke with the San Antonio Express-News about what the Center will mean for Kerrville. Here’s a brief excerpt of reporter Zeke MacCormack’s article, “It ‘isn’t your grandmother’s Salvation Army’”:
“This isn’t your grandmother’s Salvation Army,” Meredith said of the 48,000-square-foot community center, which was underwritten by funding from the late Joan Kroc, whose husband, Ray, founded the McDonald’s franchise.
“It’s a holistic ministry of the body, mind and soul, and will allow entry on level ground for people of differing socioeconomic backgrounds,” he said Tuesday.
“We’re very, very fortunate to be chosen,” Kerr County Judge Pat Tinley said. “It provides an opportunity to fill some voids in services that were needed by the community.”
The center will include a Boys and Girls Club of America, a venue for the Hill Country Children’s Theater, after-school programs for up to 120 kids, and summer nutrition programs.
It will be able to accommodate 1,000 people per day in the summer, Meredith said, adding he hoped membership would exceed 5,000.”
Pretty cool, huh? And that’s only a very few of the many services and opportunities offered by The Salvation Army’s Kerrville Kroc Community Center. For more information about the Kerrville Kroc Center, visit their website at http://kerrvillekroc.org/.
Learn more about how the generous $1.5 billion donation of the late Mrs. Joan Kroc made the construction of this Salvation Army Kroc Community Center, as well as others like it around the country, possible by visiting The Salvation Army’s website here.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
You may be familiar with the Pepsi Refresh Project that we’ve mentioned recently on our social media sites, but if not, here’s a quick recap: The Pepsi Refresh Project awards up to $1.3 million every month to people, businesses, and non-profits for ideas that will positively impact communities. Grants are awarded according to ideas that earn the most online votes within the $5K, $25K, $50K, and $250K categories.
Several Salvation Army units are in the running this month with their own original, creative ideas of how to improve their local communities. Two of these units have proposed plans focused on serving the homeless population, and they need your votes for the plans to come to fruition.
In the $250K grant category, The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division would use the funds to provide an additional 1,000 nights of shelter for Detroit’s homeless, plus 155,254 more meals to needy seniors, families and individuals through food pantries and mobile feeding trucks. They already provide more than 5,000 meals to people every day! You can help them achieve their goal by voting for this idea once a day, every day until August 31 at http://www.refresheverything.com/salmich.
In the $50K category, The Salvation Army Knoxville would use the grant to “Refresh” their Women’s Transitional Housing Program dormitory. The facility has housed hundreds of women, an average of 150 per year, for thousands of days using the same used beds, mattresses, lockers and partitions obtained when the program began in 1997. Purchasing new housing items through this grant would provide the women greater safety, privacy, and comfort, increasing their potential for success in rebuilding their lives. You can support this great idea by voting once a day, every day until August 31 at http://www.refresheverything.com/knoxredshield2010.
While competition tends to almost require an “every man for himself” mentality, these Salvation Army units have actually partnered with other competitors of the Pepsi Refresh Project to promote one another’s projects among their supporter bases. Why would they do that? Because these diverse organizations from Connecticut to Washington state are pooling their efforts for the greater cause of fighting homelessness! Since forming the unlikely alliance, the organizations have moved up in the vote rankings, meaning they are all that much closer to their shared aspiration of better serving some of most vulnerable and needy members of our communities. To see the list of these organizations and read their proposals to help the homeless, click here: http://pep.si/a1pWmF.
Don’t forget, you can vote once a day, every day for each idea until August 31. Helping support The Salvation Army and these great ideas is as easy as a click of a mouse!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Teonnia, Shon, Gladys, Annette, Andrew, Diamond, Jynxy and about a dozen other children traveled from Charlotte, NC to our nation’s capitol this July for a summer vacation. Amid the crowds of Washington, DC tourists the group of 18 kids blended in among the masses of other visitors, probably looking like the many school groups that make annual summer treks to the city. However, the story behind the young travelers’ trips was certainly unique.
The kids are residents of The Salvation Army Center of Hope in Charlotte, NC, a homeless shelter for women and children that currently houses more than 300 people. Normally these kids would not have the opportunity to take a vacation as their parents strive just to find housing and provide food for their families, but the generosity of an anonymous donor made it possible for the children to escape from life’s challenges for a short while and just have fun being kids.
The children enjoyed simple pleasures, like staying in a hotel and eating out at restaurants, as well as experienced the unique history and character of Washington, DC. They toured the national monuments, viewed exhibits at some of DC’s most popular museums and even took a boat ride (a first for at least one child) down the Potomac.
To top off their adventure, the group even met with their U.S. Representatives for a personal and candid discussion!
The Charlotte Observer ran an interesting story about the trip with several quotes from the kids in an article called, “Away from the shelter to a Washington vacation,” which you can read by clicking here.
The contributions of the kind anonymous donor made it possible for The Salvation Army to provide these kids not only with shelter and food they receive at home in Charlotte, but also encouragement, inspiration, and a unique educational opportunity through this invaluable experience. In fact, all donations, regardless of size or amount, from generous Salvation Army supporters across the country help us serve those in need every day, and this story is just one of countless others in which lives have been affected for the better. For more information about contributing monetary support or gifts-in-kind to The Salvation Army, visit our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org and www.satruck.org.
You can also learn about the many services offered by The Salvation Army of Charlotte at their website www.salvationarmycharlotte.org/.
Monday, August 2, 2010
The Salvation Army in Lubbock, TX has a brand new piece of equipment called the Rapid Response Unit that will help feed more people and boost efficiency. It’s not only the first of its kind, it’s also the only of its kind – no other Salvation Army in the nation has one yet!
According to their Facebook page, The Salvation Army of Lubbock says the Rapid Response Unit is small enough to fit in a truck bed or trailer and will expand their reach to 150 miles beyond the service area of Salvation Army canteens, larger mobile kitchens also used to serve food and drinks during emergencies.
The Rapid Response Unit was designed for on-the-street feedings and can hold up to 12 food trays, ice chests, drink containers, has plenty of room for storage and can be operated by one person. Salvation Army personnel are excited about serving the community with this versatile new equipment!
Check out a story on the Rapid Response Unit run by local news station FOX 34 here: Local Salvation Army reveals new, innovative equipment
Find more information about this and services offered by The Salvation Army Lubbock on their Facebook page or visit their website at http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
When 18 year-old Kevin Grosso set out to accomplish his Leadership Service Project in order to earn his Eagle Scout designation, it sounds like even he was surprised by what he was capable of.
The Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project is the culmination of a scout’s training and an opportunity for him to demonstrate his leadership skills. After deciding against some initial project ideas, Kevin determined he wanted to do something that the community truly needed. He then approached his local Salvation Army in Nashua, NH asking how he could be of greatest service to them.
The Nashua Salvation Army just happened to be down to their last few diapers, which they said is always a significant need, so Kevin’s project became suddenly clear: a diaper drive.
In four months, by setting up drop-off stations, seeking donations, and organizing events, Kevin collected an amazing 15,500 diapers, a year’s supply for the Army!
Thanks, Kevin, for your hard work and choosing The Salvation Army as your partnering organization. Our clients will benefit greatly from the diapers you’ve worked tirelessly to collect.
And congratulations on earning your Eagle Scout rank. You earned it!
Read Kevin’s story in full here at The Nashua Telegraph.