Monday, October 31, 2011
November is National Homeless Youth Awareness Month.
When you think of a homeless person, it’s difficult to imagine a child fending for themselves on the streets. But did you know that more than 1.5 million children are homeless at some point in their lives? The number is shocking – and apparently increasing – according to The National Center on Family Homelessness.
So…why do they leave their homes?
Many homeless youths are victims of trauma. They come from homes of significant abuse: either their parental figures are abusing substances and/or the child is being abused. Some escape because their families don’t accept them for a variety of reasons. There’s also a large number of youth who are the products of failed juvenile justice. They’ve aged out of the foster care system and are expected to be independent without resources or support.
Not surprisingly, homeless youth can have significant mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse problems. Because of this, they are more susceptible to lives of crime or early parenthood and the vicious cycle of abuse continues.
As Americans, do we trust the system too much? Are we overlooking this blatant need? In the book of Matthew, we are called by Christ to care for children:
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:1-6, 10-14
The Salvation Army has many programs in place that are helping to end the cycles of poverty, abuse and neglect of children. Many Salvation Army units have “Adopt a Child” or “Adopt a Family” programs that allow for donors to directly pay for a child or family in need. Salvation Army transitional housing centers are commonly available in communities for youths and single parent families. Even better, Salvation Army transitional programs often include relevant training. So not only are they meeting their basic needs, younger residents will receive counseling and training to increase cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial skills to help develop their education and career.
We liked The Salvation Army of Lubbock, TX’s approach to helping youths. Their Red Shield Home Transitional Shelter program gives homeless youths computers and technology classes to help them get a head start at beating cyclical homelessness. The information divide between lower-income and higher-income populations has been directly linked to access to technology. By providing technology for the younger generation, The Salvation Army of Lubbock is actively participating in bettering not only this generation, but generations to follow.
In an effort to combat this end, The Salvation Army also offers youth camps and recreational centers to encourage low-income children to learn new skills and self-reliance. Counselors at these camps encourage spiritual, physical and emotional development.
Finally, many Salvation Army units offer after-school programs that help hinder poor decisions by encouraging children to engage in healthy activities in those unsupervised hours after school.
In summary – there are a variety of programs with which you can help us!
You can get involved in our efforts to support homeless youths and to combat cyclical poverty. Helping financially is often inexpensive. Please consider reaching out to your local unit to find out how you can help “Adopt” a child financially, donate your time or items, or simply lend an ear to a child as a volunteer.
If you’d like to donate online, please visit our Ways to Give page.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
The following was contributed by Guest Blogger Brooke Newsom, Unit Director of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of the Kerrville Kroc Center.
Last week as the kids were loading off the bus to attend The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, I noticed a kindergartner running down the hall.
“Use your walking feet please.” I said as I glanced down at his shoes. I noticed there were no socks on his feet, so I asked him why he wasn’t wearing any.
He shrugged and said, “I don’t have any socks.” I prodded a little more, “You don’t have ANY socks at all?” He shrugged again, “I only get socks when I stay the night at my grandma’s house.”
In the back of my mind I remembered that we had a few packs of boy’s socks, of all things, that were donated to us during the summer time, just sitting in my office.
I asked him, “Would you like me to give you some socks?”
I did not know that a child could get so excited about something as simple and basic as socks. After helping him put a pair on and re tie his shoes, he looked up hopeful and asked, “Do I get to keep the whole package?”
“Yes.” I replied and sent him back to his classroom, hugging his new socks to his chest.
As an after school program director, it is easy to forget the “big picture” when working with the youth we serve. This child reminded me of the truly important things, such as filling a basic need that a child has. The Salvation Army has been meeting needs for a very long time, and I am grateful we haven’t forgotten the small things. We haven’t forgotten the socks.
To learn more about the ways that you can donate to The Salvation Army – whether monetarily or through goods such as clothing, furniture and household items – please visit our website at www.donate.salvationarmyusa.org.
In keeping with the mission of The Salvation Army, The Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Centers provide facilities, programs and services that encourage positive life-changing experiences for children and adults, strengthen families, and enrich the lives of seniors. Click here to learn more about The Salvation Army Kroc Centers.
Monday, September 19, 2011
We blogged last week about the increased number of Americans living in poverty which has reached a record 46.2 million people – or one in six Americans. According to the same reporting agency, the top five poorest states are Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Louisiana. Failed government policies from years past and a continued decline in GDP have taken a drastic toll on the jobs market and the American way of life. The poverty rate is the “highest of any major industrialized nation”.
This past week, reporters from The Associated Press scavenged the poorest areas of the country in search for a few of the stories behind this record-breaking number. The accounts include very real depictions of the prevalent poverty struggle in America. Most frustratingly, those without jobs often live in the communities with the fewest resources for finding another. Adding to this vicious cycle are the struggles of feeding a growing family or caring for ill loved ones who are unable to contribute. Families find themselves destitute once government assistance ends or help from the community isn’t an option anymore.
Read the stories here.
Among the accounts is that of Monique Brown, a single mom with four children who, up until two weeks ago, was homeless. When the recession hit in 2008, Monique lost both of her jobs in Florida and decided to move her family to Alabama in order to live near her brother. The Salvation Army of Birmingham provided shelter to Monique and her family for several weeks, eventually helping her find a public housing unit. They paid for her furniture, appliances and rent deposits. She now has a home where she can adequately care for her two-year-old son and continue her search for work. With help from The Salvation Army and other donations, her children have beds again.
The Salvation Army provides housing and homeless services nationwide. Along with providing food and lodging for the homeless, The Salvation Army addresses the health and educational needs of residents and seeks to address the issues causing the need. For more information on The Salvation Army Housing and Homeless Services, please visit our website at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The Kroc Center of San Diego received a special visit from San Diego Chargers’ Marcus McNeill! The acclaimed Offensive Tackle stopped by the Kroc Center Day Camp to encourage “getting fit and having fun” as part of his mission to end childhood obesity.
Whether its food banks, blood drives, or scholarships, the San Diego Chargers football team has a long-standing reputation for helping the San Diego community.
Marcus was greeting by Majors Lee and Michele Lescano. Along with discussing the importance of exercise and nutrition, Marcus also guided the kids (300 of them!) through various physical challenges. You’ll get to see just how much fun the Kroc Center Day Camp really is by watching the video below!The Kroc Center Day Camp program provides children the opportunity to play and grow in a positive and safe environment. We strive to develop the whole child- mentally, physically, and emotionally through structured group activities that aid in socialization and self-confidence,
For more information on The Salvation Army Kroc Centers, please visit our website by clicking here.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Former NFL guard Ruben Brown made one final pit stop in Milwaukee, WI, on August 11, attending the Harley-Davidson Museum’s Bike Night. Following a warm greeting from bike enthusiasts, families, and Salvation Army staff, Ruben signed autographs and toured the museum with fans. His stop in Milwaukee concludes his two month, 7,000 mile cross-country motorcycle ride which began back in June.
As a one-time recipient of The Salvation Army children’s programs, Ruben feels he benefited from his experience and he is committed to helping other children experience the same. Along with raising awareness of The Salvation Army, the 11th annual Ruben Brown Motorcycle Run raised funds to help continue these effective youth programs.
There’s still time to help Ruben raise funds for Salvation Army programs! Just use your mobile phone to text the word “RUN” to 80888*. Ninety percent of all funds donated will go to support the work of The Salvation Army; the remainder will subsidize transportation expenses associated with the Run. Plus, donations will stay in the local community in which it was raised.
* A one-time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging and data rates may apply. Donations are collected for The Salvation Army by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 80888 to stop. Reply HELP to 80888 for help. For terms, see www.igfn.org/t
Friday, August 5, 2011
While on tour for his newly released album, Georgia Clay, country artist Josh Kelley visited the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Omaha, NE on Monday. Following a special musical performance, the children enjoyed a morning full of sports, crafts, and lunch with the acclaimed musician.
His stop at the Kroc Center is one of several visits to food banks and summer food program sites across the country- a joint effort with the ConAgra Foods Foundation and Feeding America. The partnership is an effort to raise awareness about the issue of child hunger in the United States.
When school lets out for the summer and free and reduced-price school lunch programs become unavailable, millions of children in the United States are without food. The Hunger-Free Summer Program was started to ensure children have enough to eat during the summer by expanding summer meal programs to more children in more places. Their goal this summer is to serve an additional one million meals and feed 10,000 more children through unique and innovative community-based programs.
Visit www.HungerFreeSummerTour.org to learn more about the program and the 23 food banks that received Hunger-Free Summer grants.
For more information on the Salvation Army Kroc Centers please visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
The Wall Street Journal published an article this week about a growing trend among affluent families of teaching their children the importance of giving. Thankfully, “doing good” is not dependant on financial status!
There are always opportunities to pass along to the younger generation the value of helping others. The article suggests practical ideas applicable to any parent, like simply talking about the “good feeling” you get from giving, bringing children with you to volunteer and visit charities, or letting kids educate parents on causes they care about, rather than the other way around.
We believe philanthropy is a vital life lesson that you’re never too young to learn. Here are just a few ways The Salvation Army can help your family put some of these suggestions into practice:
* Have your kids collect their old clothes and toys for giveaway and bring them with you to donate to a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store. Make the experience even more impactful by explaining how their gift will benefit people in need, and use the videos and resources at our website www.satruck.org to show them real life stories.
* Make volunteering a family event, such as serving meals together at a Salvation Army shelter or being bell ringers. Visit your local Salvation Army corps to learn how you can help address your community’s specific needs.
* Empower children to donate financially. Have them fill out the online donation form for you or let them click the “Donate Now” button. Give them some change to put in the Christmas Red Kettle, or help them host their own online Red Kettle. You could even ask them if they’d like to put a percentage of their allowance toward supporting The Salvation Army.
* Find out what they’re passionate about. The Salvation Army serves a vast range of needs that they can get involved with or learn more about on our website. Maybe they have a desire to help other kids or feel strongly about supporting disaster survivors – they could get started right away by sending a child in need to summer camp or donating to our disaster relief efforts.
* Make special occasions about ‘others.’ Start a family tradition to make a donation in your child’s name on their birthday, purchase and give a toy at Christmas time for a child in need through Salvation Army Angel Tree, or serve a meal together at a Salvation Army shelter at Thanksgiving.
* Put your money where your mouth is. Offer to match a donation that your child makes. Set a long-term goal to work towards to give your child a greater sense of accomplishment and help your family work together as a team.
* Gear school and extra-curricular projects towards philanthropic causes. Programs such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts require participants to design and implement service projects. Many children and young adults have worked with The Salvation Army to complete their assignments and benefit their communities in the process.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The first official day of summer is only 1 week away, and most schools have either dismissed for the year or are getting ready to. For students, this means nearly 3 amazing months to play, explore, and just be a kid!
There’s nothing that greater epitomizes the summer experience as camp. Last year, more than 180,500 kids explored the outdoors, participated in sports, created arts & crafts, played music, learned about the Bible and more at our Salvation Army summer camps and day camps across the country.
Many camps are already in enrolling. You can register your child for a summer camp by contacting your local Salvation Army (search by zip code here) or a day camp by contacting a Kroc Center near you.
If you don’t have kids, you can help provide a camp scholarship to a child in need by donating to your local Salvation Army. In the article “Summer Camp Memories” published in the June 11 War Cry, contributor Laurie Miller fondly recounts The Salvation Army’s Camp Arnold at Timberlake in Eatonville, Washington, which she described as her “home away from home for seven summers” when she was growing up.
After explaining that many of her fellow campers came from broken homes and abusive family situations, Laurie writes:
“For years, I thought camp was just a free vacation I deserved as a child. Later, when I learned a fee was involved, I wondered how my mom could afford to send me each year. Not until I was an adult in my 20s did I realize that a woman from our church had sponsored us to go every year. I’m not sure she ever really knew how much going to Camp Arnold truly meant to me.”
As Laurie shows us, the experiences of a summer can impact the rest of a camper’s life. Whether you send your own child to camp or help to send someone else’s, consider how you can help The Salvation Army make a difference in a young person’s life this summer.
For more information about how The Salvation Army serves approximately 30 million Americans in need every year, visit our website at www.salvationarmyusa.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
On Tuesday, more than 125 children from The Salvation Army Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex Command participated in the “Style Your Sole” party, hosted by TOMS Shoes and the Dallas Cowboys, inside Cowboys Stadium.
For the event, each child received a natural canvas pair of TOMS shoes to decorate any way they chose using paints, markers, glitter and other accessories. Once completed, each child was able to keep the shoes to wear and enjoy.
In addition to the shoes donated to the participating children in last night’s party, another pair was donated to a child in need, as part of TOMS’ one-for-one movement.
The evening’s festivities culminated in the children joining hundreds outside Cowboys Stadium to participate in the “Walk Without Shoes.” The children and the participants walked barefoot around the stadium to raise awareness of the millions of children who grow up without shoes, at risk of infection and disease.
Both events were part of TOMS 4th Annual One Day Without Shoes awareness campaign.
Thank you to TOMS Shoes, the Dallas Cowboys, and all the participants for making a difference for children in need in our country and across the world!
Friday, December 3, 2010
This man has got to be the cutest elf we’ve ever seen…
But the toys he makes year round don’t go towards Santa’s stash. They go to The Salvation Army.
The elf is 90 year-old Sidney Johnson of Fremont, Nebraska who uses his skills to create beautiful toys to benefit underprivileged children. He’s made hundreds over the last several years, and he could have probably made even more if his family didn’t impose a 1 toy/day limit to keep the elderly elf from wearing himself out!
A Nebraska NBC news station recently ran the story and video [embedded above], which are being picked up by affiliates around the country. It’s apparent that we at The Salvation Army aren’t the only ones who love the guy – just read the comments viewers posted here under the original news story, and you’ll get an idea of the fan base that has rallied around Mr. Johnson!
Mr. Johnson, The Salvation Army would like to echo those sentiments of appreciation. We are blessed by your kindness and sincerely grateful for your selfless efforts to serve underprivileged families. You’ve been a wonderful blessing to far many more people than you know!