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![gallery link="file" order="DESC"]
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.
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.
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.
The Salvation Army continues to respond to the dire situation in Pakistan as communities recover from the destructive floods. Our teams are assessing the damage and working with the government and locals to learn how we can be of greatest support.
A donkey cart plods through flooded streets.
Captain Washington Daniel, the Salvation Army’s District Officer for Islamabad, went to Peshawar to assess the situation and reported:
“ Most houses are damaged badly or have fallen down completely due to the flood water. River water came into many houses, rising to above six feet in some places. People are looking for shelter, going to relatives’ houses or to churches.
People are feeling hopeless. The Government and other non-government agencies (NGOs) have not properly visited them, helped them or prayed with them. They said that people from The Salvation Army are the first to visit and pray with them.
In some areas there is still standing water and people are afraid to go back to see their homes. Their houses and what they owned is mixed with mud. The buildings and houses are cracked and not suitable for living in.”
Salvation Army personnel pray with flood survivors.
The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander from Islamabad sent the following update regarding their aid efforts:
“We met with the bishop of Peshawar’s team and they welcomed us, very thankful for The Salvation Army visit and our cooperation. In this meeting we discussed how we can manage and to start to help these people who have lost so much because of the flood.
They gave us a list of people in different areas in order to avoid duplication in distribution of assistance. I marked utensils (pots, pans, dishes) quilts, pillows, foam mattresses and gas cylinder burners that The Salvation Army will attempt to provide. We have identified 3000 families in need of assistance from the list we were given.
Our team also met with MPA Javid Prince and he showed his full support in all matter from government. For purchasing all goods, I propose we buy from Peshawar to save the transportation expense, because road conditions from Lahore to these areas are not good and for security, safety and for storage where we want to distribute we have no place.”
The first batch of relief aid to go up to the affected areas – essential goods bought with the initial funding – is being put together and will be sent as soon as it is ready to go.
If you’d like to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in Pakistan:
* visit our secure online donation page at https://secure.salvationarmy.org/.
* or mail a check or money to:
The Salvation Army World Service Office
International Disaster Relief Fund
PO Box 630728
Baltimore, MD 21263-0728
*Please note that your donation is for Pakistan*