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National BGCA Week Club Kid Feature: NJ

Meet NJ

NJ - WebNajahahn, known to everyone as “NJ”, is no stranger to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. He began attending the Club at five years old and found a place where he could have fun.

“I like that I get to come and play basketball in the gym, and make new friends.”

But now at 14, he has found a place where he can not only have fun but also pursue his passion.

Six years ago, staff member Josh Huling started a photography group in the Club with his personal camera equipment. The kids started off with disposable cameras and learned about the fundamentals of photography.

In 2012, NJ entered a photography competition and won. That was when photography became more than an interest. It quickly became a passion and most likely a career path.

Since winning that competition, NJ has won around $5,000 for photography equipment and classes. He will soon begin taking classes at Rose State or OCCC with his most recent competition win.

NJ has also been invited to The Salvation Army Youth Councils – a spiritual retreat for young people in The Salvation Army’s Arkansas and Oklahoma Division – to be a part of the communications team and take photos during the retreat.

Because of your support of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, young people just like NJ find what they are passionate about every day. If you would like to ensure more Great Futures are created at our club, get involved as a volunteer or donate now.

National BGCA Week Club Kid Feature: Mackenzie

Meet Mackenzie

Mackenzie - WebMackenzie is no stranger to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. She’s attended the club for five years along with her brothers, one of which is a staff member.

Getting help with her homework by the staff and volunteers is one of her favorite things about the club.

“I like getting help with the things I need, like homework. I struggle with a lot in certain subjects and they help me with it.”

Mackenzie also had help from staff preparing for the Youth of the Year competition – Boys & Girls Club of America’s yearly recognition program that awards scholarships to Club members who exemplify the values of leadership, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles. As an eighth grader, she’s one of the youngest contestants vying to win scholarships for college.

While Mackenzie did not advance in the competition, she allowed herself to be pushed out of her comfort zone because she has a desire to go to college.

Because of your support of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, students like Mackenzie who want to attend college have a place where they are encouraged to achieve their goals. If you would like to ensure more Great Futures are created at our club, get involved as a volunteer or donate now.

National BGCA Week Club Kid Feature: Delmone

Meet Delmone

Delmone - WebTwo of Delmone’s favorite things about The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club are that he gets to make new friends and play basketball. It doesn’t take long to see why with his outgoing personality and positive attitude.

Since he began attending the club last year, Delmone has been introduced to baseball and dodgeball by the University of Central Oklahoma Baseball team. After playing baseball with a real team, Delmone now wants to try out for his school team.

Being a team player won’t be hard for him since Delmone has learned about it from his favorite club staff member, Mr. Lou.

“Mr. Lou taught me how to do good stuff and how to help people when they need help. And sportsmanship,” Delmone eagerly shared.

But the interest to excel does not just apply to sports. Delmone works hard on his schoolwork and takes advantage of the tutoring the staff and volunteers provide.

“I get help with my reading – because I don’t like reading – and science. I like science but I’m just not very good at it.”

He also likes social studies, math, history and geography. And, when Delmone grows up, he wants to be a firefighter just like his great-great-grandpa.

You can’t help but smile when he tells why he thinks the staff at the club are so great.

“What I like about the staff is they help me with my stuff, tell me where I’m supposed to be, keep me safe and I have responsibilities here.”

Because of your support of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, kids like Delmone have a positive, safe place to go after school. If you would like to ensure more Great Futures are created at our club, get involved as a volunteer or donate now.

National BGCA Week Club Kid Feature: Andria

Meet Andria

Andria - WebAndria has attended The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club for four years and loves it because it’s a “fun place.” Some of her favorite activities at the Club are playing basketball and football as well as talking with her friends. But her most favorite thing is attending camp during the summer because there is lots of swimming and free concessions.

Because she attends our club, Andria was introduced to Sunbeams – a program for girls similar to Girl Scouts – and has earned badges for completing different activities and attended a week of Sunbeams Camp last summer.

When she grows up, Andria wants to be a Pediatric Nurse since she isn’t afraid of blood unless it is her own.

Because of your support of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, kids like Andria have a positive, safe place to go after school. If you would like to ensure more Great Futures are created at our club, get involved as a volunteer or donate now.

Making a Difference: Ruth’s Volunteer Story

Ruth in PantryRuth and her husband first became acquainted with The Salvation Army through the Angel Tree program. For several years they adopted children off the tree, providing gifts for Christmas. Then they learned about the opportunity to help distribute the gifts to the families and fell in love.

“When we went to that first Angel Tree Distribution, it was really like, ‘they are doing things in the community. The Salvation Army is making a difference right here,’” Ruth recounted.

Ruth’s family has always been committed to service, striving to be the “boots on the ground” with their time and talents. Her husband served in the Air Force and Ruth would use her artistic abilities to organize events to bless the troops overseas.

With the recent troop drawdown, Ruth and her husband felt a call to serve their local community.

Her motto: “Just giving all the way around. Trying to live more generously and make a difference in people’s lives.”

And Ruth does just that. Going above and beyond her calling of being a “volunteer,” Ruth ministers to everyone she meets with her kindness.

“Even in traffic you can be kind. It’s just some small kindness every day that might make a difference in someone’s life. We don’t know what they’re going through or why they’re in a hurry. But if we open the door for them, or let them out in traffic, give them a smile and welcome them, it may make a big difference in their day.”

Ruth’s willingness to serve people shines through as she volunteers at The Salvation Army of Norman answering the phone, organizing the pantry, serving the evening meal and purchasing items the shelter guests need.

“The Salvation Army doesn’t care who you are or what’s going on in your life. They’re here to help you if they can,” Ruth shared. “That’s important because God called us to love in His name.”

Ruth’s heart of service doesn’t come from a need for attention or recognition, but from her love for God and His people.

“There are days I don’t feel like I do a lot around here but sometimes it’s just one kind word to somebody may be all that I was required to do that day. I keep saying that it’s not about me. It’s about God and His glory. I often pray that when I come here to remind myself it’s not about me. It’s about Him and His kingdom and making a difference. That’s important.”

For others thinking about volunteering, Ruth’s advice: “At least give it a try. You never know where it’ll lead.”

To join Ruth as a volunteer at The Salvation Army in Norman, call us today at 405-364-9910.

You’re Invited: The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary 29th Celebration of Hope

The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Women’s Auxiliary is hosting the 29th Annual Celebration of Hope on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 with a silent auction beginning at 10 a.m. followed by a luncheon and program at 11:30 a.m. at Church of the Servant, 14343 N. MacArthur, Oklahoma City, OK 73142.

This year the event will focus on lives that have been transformed by The Salvation Army’s ministry with a personal testimony of one man’s redemptive journey from homelessness back to self-sufficiency. The event will also celebrate 10 years of the Women’s Auxiliary Buck$ 4 Bikes program which raises funds to provide bicycles to children who are on The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree at Christmas.

“Because of the generosity of this community we have the incredible opportunity to provide tools that allow individuals to better their lives,” said Major Charlotte Gargis, associate area commander for The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma. “We thank God for the privilege of providing hope, healing and restoration to those hurting in Central Oklahoma.”

The program will also feature ventriloquist Darci Farmer and KFOR NewsChannel 4 Anchor Marianne Rafferty as emcee.

The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is comprised of women who have dedicated their time and talents to help transform lives through The Salvation Army’s programs and services. The Celebration of Hope event began 29 years ago to raise funds to purchase Christmas gifts for Forgotten Angels, children on the Angel Tree who were not adopted, but has grown to help fund many more programs.

All funds raised through this year’s event will benefit the ongoing programs and services at The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma including the shelter program, Client Choice Food Pantry, senior programs, summer camp sponsorships and The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club.

Tickets for the event are $45 and can be purchased by contacting Jill Walker at 405-627-1334. All reservations must be made by March 25, 2016.

Story of Hope: Terrance & Darla

Terrance, Darla & Leona

Terrance and Darla with Leona Chapman (right), director of social services for The Salvation Army in Norman.

Terrance and Darla met over 30 years ago at Terrance’s sister’s wedding. Originally from Arizona and North Carolina respectively, the two were married and eventually settled down in Norman.

In December 2014, a disagreement with their apartment’s management caused them, along with their son who had to drop out of college, to begin living in a motel. Terrance supported the family by driving for a trucking company but because of his age, he decided to leave and their funds soon ran out.

Terrance, Darla and their son visited The Salvation Army shelter in Oklahoma City and learned there were beds available in Norman. Once they were settled, they met with the director, Leona Chapman, to make a plan for getting back to self-sufficiency.

They were connected with a veteran’s services case worker who began helping them get a home. While they worked to get back on their feet, Terrance, Darla and their son did everything in their power to give back to The Salvation Army.

“Anything that could help out, we didn’t mind doing,” Terrance shared. “The Salvation Army gave us a roof over our head and food to eat, at least until we got back on our feet, we wanted to help and give back.”

That positive attitude allowed them to find a new place to live within three months. A new place that is better than before with hardwood floors, a large kitchen and dining room, and a fireplace.

Today, Darla has passed her certification to be a registered medical assistant and works for a doctor’s office, Terrance has a new job and their son is headed to Texas A&M in the fall after graduating with his Associate’s Degree in May.

Terrance and Darla know that because they asked for help, they are in a better place but it took them putting in hard work as well.

For others facing similar hardships, they offer this advice, “Swallow your pride. There are organizations willing to help you and all you have to do is ask. If you do your part, whatever they ask, they will bend over backwards to help you. The Salvation Army has done that for us.”

Central Oklahoma 2015 Christmas Successes

 

Red Kettle fundraiser sees 7.6 percent increase over 2014 along with an 8 percent increase
in individuals served through Angel Tree

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command saw an increase in donations and individuals served in 2015 from the previous Christmas season. The Red Kettle campaign raised $579,199.91 in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian Counties, an increase of 7.6 percent over the 2014 campaign.

“Because of your generosity, thousands of individuals found hope at The Salvation Army during Christmas,” said Major Carlyle Gargis, area commander at The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma. “We are overwhelmed with joy and continue to offer up thanks to God for everyone who gave of their time, talent and treasure to help our neighbors in need.”

Money was not the only resource Oklahomans were generous with this year. The Salvation Army’s volunteers gave more of their time in 2015 with 3,323 volunteers serving 14,369 hours to ring the bell and assist the Angel Tree program.

The additional hours were crucial to meeting the 8 percent increase of individuals seeking assistance through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. The Angel Tree program provided 9,919 individuals, representing over 1,600 families, with Christmas gifts and food donated by the Central Oklahoma community.

“With the increased need, we were concerned our goal would not be met but we prayed and received a miracle with individuals and businesses stepping up to ensure no child was forgotten,” said Major Charlotte Gargis, associate area commander. “On behalf of all of our families, we say ‘thank you’ for giving the gift of love through each doll, toy truck and bicycle.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder, Chesapeake Energy and Paycom were key partners during the season to make Christmas wishes a reality. Five families were adopted by the OKC Thunder and were surprised at home by Thunder players who brought with them gifts, food and tickets to the Christmas Day game. Chesapeake Energy boosted The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program with a gift of $125,000 and Paycom employees once again gave to the red kettle campaign with a gift of $65,000, exceeding any other gift given to the Oklahoma City campaign.

“The Salvation Army in Central Oklahoma helps those in need 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Major Carlyle Gargis. “There are more demands than we can meet on our own but with the community’s continued support, together we are able to provide relief from suffering and set a course for transformed lives year round.”

 

(12/9/15) Deadline Extended for Final Angel Tree Round Up

Angel Tree - Family recipients

2,500 Angels have not been returned with their gifts

The Salvation Army is extending the deadline to return Angels to the Angel Trees at Penn Square and Quail Springs Malls until December 12, 2015 at 7 p.m. As of today, 2,500 Angels have not been returned with their gifts and The Salvation Army needs your help to ensure no child is forgotten this Christmas.

On average, 15 to 20 percent of Angels are not returned because they are lost or forgotten. The Salvation Army is in need of new, unwrapped toys and clothing items to fill forgotten Angels, ages 6-14, this Christmas.

Toy and clothing donations may be brought to the mall Angel Trees or to Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads, 7000 Crossroads Boulevard, Oklahoma City, OK 73149, until December 14 at 4 p.m. (excluding Sunday, December 13). The Salvation Army’s distribution center is located on the east side of the mall, in the space formerly occupied by Montgomery Wards.

The Angel Tree families will begin receiving their gifts on December 15 through December 18. Each family will collect their gifts as well as receive a box of food to prepare a Christmas meal.

For questions on how you can help ensure no child is forgotten this Christmas, please contact Major Charlotte Gargis at 405-246-1113 or charlotte.gargis@uss.salvationarmy.org. Your donation will bring hope to a family this Christmas.

From Under a Bridge: Mark’s Story of Hope

2015-11-18 14.58.21The first meeting Salvation Army staff had with Mark was under the Crosstown Boulevard overpass at Blackwelder. Mark had been living on the streets for more than three years due to bad life choices.

When The Salvation Army Night Watch team met Mark, they invited him to stay in the shelter but he refused. Over the next few weeks, the team encountered Mark again and again extending the same invitation for shelter but again and again he would refuse.

Until one night, Mark came to the realization: “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I needed a change.”

As he settled into the shelter, Mark began attending the worship services and soon after he gave his life to God.

“Night Watch came and rescued me there. I came in here and gave my life to Christ and He’s just been working miracles.”

Even though it took some time for him to finally accept The Salvation Army’s invitation, Mark knows it was God who led him to say yes.

“They’ve helped me so much; I want to help others. I want to show others that if I can do it with my life, God can do it in their life.”

Mark is now becoming involved with Night Watch and sharing his testimony with others – giving them the wakeup call that he needed for so long.

“I still have a long way to go of course, and God has a lot more work to do in me but I’m looking forward to what He has planned. Without the Night Watch team, I would be dead or in prison.”

UPDATE (1/6/16): Mark now has his own place to live and just recently joined The Salvation Army staff as custodian. We give God all the praise for the amazing things happening in his life!