Doing the Most Good
If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you know that I grew up in a home with both parents who were, for about eight years, officers (ministers) of the church and charitable organization, The Salvation Army. You will also know that when I graduated high school, I spent my college years working for this organization and met my husband, also a Salvation Army employee, while employed at the Family Services department.
The Salvation Army was started in 1865 by William and Catherine (Mumford) Booth in London, England as the Christian Mission. They ministered to alcoholics, prostitutes, and other street people living in the worst sort of circumstances. They recognized that a person's spiritual needs could not be met until their physical needs had first been satisfied; thus the motto "Soup, Soap, and Salvation" was born. Originally, the Booths tried to bring their converts to local churches, but the organized congregations' classist attitudes convinced them that they needed to form their own movement. They organized themselves in a military way, with officers being ministers, a corps being a church, and soldiers as members. In 1878, the name was officially changed to The Salvation Army, and in 1880, their work began in the United States. The Salvation Army was unusual in that it allowed women to be ministers at a time when they had few legal rights in most civilized countries.
The work of The Salvation Army continues internationally today in its community outreach programs, including alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs and centers; its community centers serving the athletic, day care, and meal needs of children, youth, and seniors; its family service centers (food banks and shelters); its thrift stores, providing employment as well as inexpensive items for sale to low-income families; summer camps and day camps, and many other services. The Salvation Army is often one of the first organizations at disaster sites, and while we often hear about the (deservedly) good work of the Red Cross in times and areas of crisis, The Salvation Army is also there, working quietly behind the scenes, offering not only physical help but spiritual and emotional counseling as well.
Every Thanksgiving, the The Salvation Army in the United States kicks off its Red Kettle Campaign to promote the presence of its kettle stands at malls and shopping centers throughout the holiday season. There are two types of kettle workers that you'll see: the first type is the volunteer, usually working as a service member of another organization, such as the Rotary Club or Kiwanis group. The second type of worker, much more common, is a seasonal, minimum-wage employee who either is in need a job to provide for themselves and/or a family, or sometimes a student on break or a person working a second job to make a little extra Christmas money.
The donations received go into The Salvation Army's general fund, and stay within that community, even if there is not a corps (church) in that community. The Army works with social service organizations within small communities if they themselves do not have a corps there. Monies are used year-round to fight poverty locally. For those communities that do have a corps, the monies go toward that corps outreach programs mentioned two paragraphs above. Those in need do not need to be members of The Salvation Army to receive assistance.
This year, I am starting my own Red Kettle Campaign. At the bottom of every post between today and Christmas Day, you will see two icons: one is the Christmas Kettle and the other is the Angel Giving Tree. You can click on either icon to be brought to a webpage where you can make a monetary donation, or adopt an Angel--a child or senior for the holidays. The Angel Giving Tree program originally started to provide children of the imprisoned and jailed with Christmas gifts and needed clothing and toiletry items. It has been expanded to include all needy children, as well as indigent senior citizens.
This year has been especially difficult for many. In my own household, my husband has been unemployed since May and our income has dropped drastically, not only because Unemployment Insurance only pays two-thirds of what his original income was, but because I am now carrying our medical insurance through my employer. Yet, we have so much, and we are grateful for what we have! I am sure many of you are in the same boat. In all of our economic difficulties, let us look beyond our own needs to the even greater needs of others. Please make a donation or adopt a child or senior for the holidays. Your donation will stay in your own community, and if you adopt an Angel, he or she will also be from your local community. As you do so, will you leave a comment below so that I can acknowledge your generosity and so that it will be an encouragement for others to also give?