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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!

Adopt An Angel & Make Christmas Wishes Come True

boy opening present-website

You Can Make Christmas Wishes A Reality

If you haven’t adopted your Angel yet, visit Penn Square and Quail Springs Malls today. All Angels must be returned by December 10th. For more information, contact Major Charlotte Gargis at 405-246-1113.

Every year, hundreds of families in Central Oklahoma receive Christmas assistance from The Salvation Army. But, without the generosity of the community, this assistance would not be possible. We register families without any gifts in our possession or guarantee that the gifts are coming.

The Salvation Army faithfully depends on our community to share their gifts with those less fortunate.

Because you adopt Angels and purchase gifts, a child will have a present to open Christmas morning. A parent breathes a sigh of relief because they don’t have to explain why Santa didn’t visit their house.

Because you give, you make Christmas dreams a reality. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

2015 Angel Tree & Red Kettle Kickoff

Join us for the 2015 Angel Tree & Red Kettle Kickoff at Quail Springs Mall beginning at 10 a.m. Not only will we have The Salvation Army’s Brass Ensemble playing Christmas tunes but we will be joined by Majors Carlyle & Charlotte Gargis, KFOR Newschannel 4’s Kevin Ogle, and representing the OKC Thunder…Rumble the Bison and the Thunder Girls!

We invite you to be a part of the festivities as we gather around the Angel Tree located on the lower level by Great American Cookies. For more information, please call us at 405-246-1100 or visit our Facebook page.

Out of her Comfort Zone: Georgann’s Volunteer Story

Georgann - WebsiteGeorgann only knew about The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles when she first visited. But since that visit four months ago, she has dedicated herself to serve families in need in our community, even though it means stepping out of her comfort zone.

“It really speaks to my heart. It is hard work but it’s very rewarding,” Georgann shared.

The food pantry has become her favorite place because of the people.

“I began helping a woman in the pantry one day and she shared with me that it was her prayer she receive leg of lamb during her visit. As we approached the freezer to look at the meat selection, right on the bottom shelf was a leg of lamb for her to have! It was so neat!”

Though she may have been nervous as a first-time volunteer, Georgann has fallen in love with giving back to her community and sharing with others the work going on here.

“I just hope, as the opportunities come around, I can do more. The people that I visit with at church about The Salvation Army…they’re thinking it’s just the kettle or ringing bells. But, no, it’s a whole lot more than that. We’re just trying to help people.”

Just Have Faith & Determination – Marlon’s Story of Hope

Marlon 2Marlon is no stranger to starting over in a new place. Originally from Louisiana, Marlon left for Las Vegas after Hurricane Katrina and eventually settled in Salina, KS. After a relationship turned into a bad situation, he decided it was time to move on – leaving his job, friends and coworkers to start again.

He first went to Wichita, KS but after struggling to find a job, Marlon headed for Oklahoma City after learning that it was in the top five for cities with the lowest unemployment rate.

With his savings quickly depleting, Marlon stay on the floor at an Oklahoma City shelter but he knew he needed a more stable environment in order to get back on his feet. That is when he learned of The Salvation Army.

Just five days after arriving in Oklahoma, Marlon had a bed to call his own and an army of people rooting for him. Within two weeks he had a job. Now Marlon has two jobs and feels blessed that both are such great working environments.

“None of this would have been possible without God – God first,” Marlon proudly expresses. “I have a strong belief in Him and my faith in God has gotten even stronger since I’ve been here at The Salvation Army.”

Marlon’s faith in God and his hard work have him on the fast track to be back on his feet. Working over 60 hours a week, he is already making weekly payments on new bedroom and living room furniture. He has already picked out an apartment but is waiting to save more money before signing a lease.

“I’ve got so many plans. I’ve got goals that are reachable – long-term goals that are far off but they’re also doable,” Marlon explains. “But one step at a time, slow and easy.”

In our shelter, Marlon has become a role model for others wanting to change their life. He was awarded the Shining Star award which recognizes individuals who have made great strides to improve their lives.

Marlon mentors the other residents realistically telling them that change has to happen.

“I’m no saint or nothing like that but when I do point them in the right direction, it’s up to them to do these things. I try to tell them how to present themselves. Humble yourself, you know. Those old street ways, those old attitudes you’ve got to lose that now.”

It is clear that Marlon is not going to let a bad situation that was forced on him keep him down. His constant positivity, faith and determination are an inspiration to everyone. And he knows that he is not the only one who is capable of changing his circumstances.

“I’m not the only one who can do this. Everyone else can do it too but they have to want it.”

Because of your support of The Salvation Army, Marlon’s story was made possible. If you would like to continue making a difference in the life of someone just like Marlon, you can:

  • Volunteer as a mentor and teach budgeting and other life skills.
  • Provide socks, gloves, black or tan slacks, white collared shirts, black-soled shoes and other items individuals need for work. Items can be dropped off at 1001 N. Pennsylvania, Oklahoma City, OK 73107.
  • Click the Donate Now button above and financially support our shelter programs.

Much More Than A Small Part: A Couple’s Volunteer Story

Pantry Basket w ApronNancy and Trent first came to The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope because they were curious about the new facility at 10th & Penn. As they toured the building and heard about the services provided and volunteer needs, Nancy and Trent felt they had to help.

They signed up to volunteer and began serving that same week. Seeing the needs of the community first hand has given them a new appreciation for all their blessings.

“The Salvation Army has allowed us to be a small part of what they do for the community. They have given a lot of people a ray of hope,” said Trent. “All you need is a little hope and help.”

Their favorite part about volunteering? The smiles of the staff, volunteers and clients. “They smile and you can see all the way to their heart,” shared Trent.

“I believe the volunteers get more out of their experience than the clients,” added Nancy.

Trent and Nancy may consider their volunteering a “small part,” but to the staff, clients and other volunteers, they are so much more.

URGENT: Christmas Warehouse Space Needed

We are in need of a location for our Angel Tree program. This space would allow us to serve  Oklahoma County families in need during Christmas.

Our space needs:

  • 70,000 to 80,000 ft.².
  • Temperature controlled
  • Loading dock
  • Working lights and restrooms
  • Parking area for volunteers and clients
  • Safe and secure area for all of our items
  • Minimum time frame from November 16 to December 18

We will provide a certificate of insurance for the term of the lease.

If you have or know of a space we can use, please contact Jeff Lara at 405-246-1108 or jeff.lara@uss.salvationarmy.org. Thank you!

Angel Tree Program for Oklahoma County Begins

Angel Tree Applications

UPDATE 9/22/15: All Angel Tree Appointment letters have been distributed and all appointment times field. The Angel Tree applications are now closed to those who did not receive an appointment letter.

___________________________

The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma will begin handing out appointment letters for the 2015 Angel Tree Program for residents in Oklahoma County on Tuesday, September 8 at 9 a.m. at their Social Services office located at 1001 N. Pennsylvania in Oklahoma City.

The appointment letter includes a date, time and instructions on eligibility for The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Once the letter is collected, individuals will need to follow all of the instructions and bring the necessary documentation to their appointment assigned in their letter.

Beginning September 8, appointment letters will be available Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 3:30 p.m. In order to receive Christmas assistance from The Salvation Army, individuals must come and collect an appointment letter.

Residents of Oklahoma County and residents of ZIP codes 73159, 73165 and 73170 of Cleveland County may come during the stated hours to receive an appointment letter. (Residents of ZIP code 73160 should contact The Salvation Army in Norman at 405-364-9910.)

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program helps families with children, ages 0 to 14, and senior citizens, ages 62 and greater, by providing Christmas presents, a food box and a Bible. Last year, over 2,000 families received Christmas assistance through The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma’s Angel Tree program.

For more information and the latest updates, please visit our website at www.salvationarmyokcac.org/christmas.