Atlanta’s Overwhelming Need Spurs ‘Call to Action’

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

- Mail:

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!

The Giving Pledge

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.

2010 Online Annual Report Now Available

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!

Kids in Need Ready for School Thanks to Target’s Back-to-School Spree

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.