Straight from Gobbler’s Knob this morning, the world’s most famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil has predicted an early spring! The winter-weary, and especially those impacted by this week’s blizzard, are probably rejoicing at the news – that is, if you put any stock in the forecast of a rodent.
However, there are some out there savoring what’s left of this bitterly cold season. Just a few hours east of Punxsutawney in Williamsport, PA, The Salvation Army held its Second Annual Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday. About 100 people dove in to the icy Susquehanna River, and about 500 more shivered as they watched from dry ground. Some of the plungers even came in costume, reportedly dressed for dunking in prom gowns, tuxedo garb, and even a buffalo headdress.
Weird? Absolutely, but it was all for a good cause. The local Salvation Army says they raised more than $5,000 as a result of the Polar Bear Plunge, which will go to support community programs, especially those benefitting youth.
Fun fact for the Day: Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn’t seen it 16 times since 1887.
Across the country The Salvation Army is making preparations for the massive winter storm forecast to bear down today and tomorrow on states stretching from the Midwest all the way to the Northeast.
Feeding locations and mobile kitchens are being stocked and readied to serve hot meals in many areas. Pending a review of tonight’s expected conditions, The Salvation Army in Nebraska hopes their Winter Night Watch (WNW) program will be able to roam the streets of Omaha to distribute food and drinks to the homeless, as well as winter outerwear for those in need.
As temperatures drop into the teens and negative digits, the homeless or anyone in need of a safe, warm place is encouraged to head to Salvation Army warming centers open across Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and other states. Specific addresses are being reported by the local media or can be found by contacting your nearest Salvation Army.
In Chicago, where they’re predicting historic blizzard conditions, the city’s Emergency Services Director has announced they will be partnering with The Salvation Army, the Red Cross, and other organizations to effectively coordinate storm response. Many of our Salvation Army Divisions, in fact, are participating in conference calls today to plan with local governments and other entities.
If you or your loved ones are in the storm’s path, we hope you stay warm and safe over these next few days.
Check back soon for updates on The Salvation Army’s efforts.
Following the massive mid-January floods and landslides in Brazil, The Salvation Army continues to respond to need in affected communities. The Salvation Army of Brazil has posted photos to their Flickr account of damage and disaster relief efforts. We’ve included a few below to share with you a clearer picture of some of the work being done and the challenges that remain for survivors. You can find the full album here.
Supplies, logistical support, and more than 10 tons of donations have gone out to key areas, as well as financial support from The Salvation Army’s World Services Offices (SAWSO), the international arm of The Salvation Army USA. Local Rotary Clubs, businesses, and churches in São Paulo and Sorocaba have also pitched in to assist with disaster relief efforts. It is expected it will take months for local communities to recuperate.
If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s Brazilian mudslide appeal, please visit https://secure20.salvationarmy.org/donation.jsp to make a donation.
Today The Salvation Army announced its new world leader and the 19th General will be Canadian-born Commissioner Linda Bond. She was elected by The High Council of The Salvation Army, made up of senior leaders from around the world who met this week near London. Commissioner Bond will succeed the current world leader General Shaw Clifton, who retires early April.
Commissioner Bond will be the 3rd woman and the 4th Canadian to hold the post of General of The Salvation Army in our 146 year history. She comes to the role with 42 years experience of ministry and leadership and currently heads up the church and charity’s work in Eastern Australia. This region includes the recently devastated state of Queensland where The Salvation Army continues to be heavily involved in assisting victims of widespread flooding.
Once in post as General of The Salvation Army, the Commissioner will become the head of more than one million Salvationists in 123 countries. The Salvation Army also has more than 100,000 employees who between them communicate in 175 different languages.