If you’ve ever played on a sports team or been involved in athletic activities, you understand what a positive role sports play in healthy physical, emotional, and social development. Plus, being active is fun!
Recreational activities are an important part of The Salvation Army’s mission in serving others and provide wonderful opportunities to support and build up youth and communities as a whole. With summer just around the corner, The Salvation Army and several professional sports role models have been busy making sure kids have a chance to get active and play! Here are just a few examples taking place right now across the country:
Tomorrow (June 12) in Durham, NC, NFL quarterback David Garrard will host his second annual Air It Out Football & Cheer Camp. Garrard’s foundation has enabled children from The Salvation Army to attend at no charge! In addition to Garrard, several NFL players and college cheerleaders will be personally facilitating the camp.
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones
Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones and The Salvation Army each pledged $25,000 to the North Mabee Boys & Girls Club in Tulsa, OK during an MVP Weekend camp for local children, which included a “Sound Mind, Sound Body” football camp for high school players. Participating campers even got personal playing tips from Jones, as well as New Orleans Saints wide receiver and Super Bowl champion Robert Meachem.
The United Football League (UFL) Nighthawks in Omaha, NE donated $25,000 to the Salvation Army Kroc Center to establish two mentoring programs for local children. Through the Mini-Hawk program, Nighthawk players will have the opportunity to mentor children ages 12 and under. Through a second program geared at older kids, teenagers will have the opportunity to meet and interact with members of the Nighthawks team.
Also, players from the Los Angeles Lakers and NBA Commissioner David Stern kicked off the new NBA Cares Learn & Play Center at The Salvation Army Los Angeles Red Shield Youth & Community Center. The Lakers played with and encouraged the kids at the opening event. The Center, newly furnished with books and computers, will provide a great place youth to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
SALVATION Army emergency response teams in Guatemala are providing assistance after the country was hit by two major disasters within 10 days.
A state of emergency was declared after the eruption of the Pacaya Volcano – about 15 miles south of the capital, Guatemala City. A television journalist was killed in the eruption and the international airport had to be closed. Some 1,600 people were evacuated from the slopes of the volcano and two to three inches of ash built up on streets in some southern parts of the capital.
Dots mark the path of Tropical Storm Agatha
While the country was struggling to deal with the aftermath of the eruption, Tropical Storm Agatha moved across central America, bringing devastation on a huge scale. Of the 150 people known to have been killed in the region, more than 120 were from Guatemala. These numbers may rise.
Some communities were cut off by floods and mudslides, and the ash clean-up operation was badly affected. At one point a Salvation Army team was stranded after a landslide blocked the roads to a community where it was providing assistance.
Almost 112,000 people were evacuated from their homes across Guatemala and around 30,000 had to seek temporary accommodation in emergency shelters.
The local authorities set up a campaign to provide support and The Salvation Army played its part, delivering coffee and warm meals. Salvation Army officers (church ministers) coordinated the response and other Salvationists worked as volunteers.
The first assistance provided by The Salvation Army was at San Vicente, in response to the volcanic eruption. The number of people seeking help increased because of the storm and support is being given at shelters in Tierra Nueva.
A Purple Heart has finally found its way home after mistakenly surfacing January in a box of donations at a Salvation Army Store in New York. The medal was found with a certificate and photo of a young soldier, and figuring the valuable honor was not intended to be given away, Salvation Army staff had few clues to direct them to the rightful owner.
The certificate described the award of Sgt. Richard E. Owen “for military wounds received in action resulting in his death on June 6, 1944,” but no one knew who dropped off the donation, if Sgt. Owen was even from the New York area, or the names of his living family members. However, after thorough research, Salvation Army Captain Ronald Heimbrock discovered Sgt. Owen was from the “Easy” Company Paratroopers, 101st Airborne Division, whose mission in Europe during WWII inspired the popular HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers.”
Capt. Heimbrock contacted the local newspaper to run a story in hopes of finding someone with a connection, which was then picked up by AP who distributed stories across the country. Soon, the American Legion reached out to Capt. Heimbrock to assist in the search by posting information on their blog. (Click here to read a story discussing the myterious details surrounding the Purple Heart and Capt. Heimbrock’s efforts.)
When the Winchester Virginia newspaper wrote an article on the matter, the reporter was approached by a woman named Ellen Marshall, the great niece of Richard Owen, with a photo album containing pictures of her great uncle. She explained that she and her sister Susanne Marshall helped take care of the estate of Sgt. Owen’s widow, their great aunt Ruth McCann, after she passed in 2002, which is how they came into care of the Purple Heart and mistakenly gave it away amidst of a box of other items.
With the mystery finally solved, a ceremony honoring Sgt. Owen was held on Armed Forces Day in James Island, SC, during which Susanne Marshall was presented with her great uncle’s Purple Heart and certificate. Many shared in the joy of knowing Sgt. Owen’s family was reunited with the important symbol of the man’s sacrifice to his country. Salvation Army Capt. Ronald Heimbrock was present, along with Mark Seavey of the American Legion.
Click here to read the American Legion’s story of this very special event and highly anticipated reunion.
It’s about that time of year when college students move out of their dorm rooms and head back home for the summer, but sometimes, all the “stuff” they’ve accumulated over the past year doesn’t take the road trip with them, whether it be for lack of want, space, or another reason.
Instead of ditching or throwing away perfectly good items, from clothes to books to appliances, students have an opportunity to give them new second-hand life with the help of The Salvation Army.
At Skidmore College in New York, the school has partnered with The Salvation Army for their annual “Give and Go” event. Student volunteers collect the usable items left behind in the dorms and donate them to the Army, where they will be sold in our Family Thrift Stores or given to other local charities who can put them to good use. Read the full story about this conservation effort at Skidmore College’s website by clicking here.
According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, several other colleges in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Massachusetts are participating in similar efforts, with Salvation Army trucks swinging by the campuses following the student exodus. Between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds of goods and food are salvaged at each location, diverting the items from the landfill and into the hands of people in need. Find the full article here.