Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Fighting for Those in Need—The Salvation Army
Ask anyone about the Salvation Army and they'll very likely respond, "Oh yes, they're the ones who have the bell-ringing Santas with the big Red Kettles and the Angel Trees. They've been around forever!" The respondents are right, of course. The Salvation Army began in 1865 and has collected money Christmas after Christmas for people in need, including children and seniors who benefit from being chosen from the Angel Trees.
But that's not all the Salvation Army does, Cathy Shull points out. A 30+ year volunteer, she has seen the ins and outs of the organization. Both as a member of the Women's Auxiliary and also as an Advisory Board member, she has rung the bell, recruited other bell ringers, worked the onsite Thrift Shop, filled backpacks and Christmas stockings, helped with meals, raised money for the renovation of a facility, and been part of the oversight and decision making that keeps the Salvation Army on record as a charity with one of the highest percentages of contributions going directly to serving the needy (rather than to administrative or marketing costs). "Every penny is helping someone," Cathy declares.
Recognizing that there are no quick fixes, the Salvation Army has wrap-around services to get individuals and families back on track. Starting with the basic needs for food, shelter, and clothing, the assistance often extends to training for employment, including learning and practicing interview skills, as well as physical, mental, and dental health care. But the heart of all the caring is focused on turning hearts to God, who is the ultimate Healer and Provider. Those in need participate in Bible study, worship, and prayer; and they are surrounded by a loving community—including volunteers—who know the love of God and share it.
Cathy is impressed by how much the Army does and how effective they are as they "fight for those in need." But even more, she is humbled by the selflessness of the staff and volunteers as they carry out their mission. "They are the most giving, loving people I've been around—I benefit too," she declares.
Volunteers can do as "little" as ring a bell for a two-hour shift or shop for one of the Angels. Whatever time a volunteer has available to give helps someone in need. Those pennies and dollars in the Red Kettle are also helping!
To volunteer, visit slavationarmyusa.org. The website will direct you to a facility near you. If you want a vacation where you can also volunteer, the organization is in 131 countries!