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The Salvation Army is Love: Insights from an Advisory Council Member

I grew up with first-hand knowledge of the Salvation Army after being taken, along with my siblings, by the state and placed in our grandmother’s home. My grandmother was a supporter of The Salvation Army and had to rely upon its services to help clothe and feed us.

One way I decided to give back as I got older was by becoming an advisory council member of The Salvation Army of Cleveland County. I lived out of country for many of my adult years, so when we returned to Oklahoma I decided to get involved in volunteering to pay back the awesome care received as a child. I have been most surprised at the extent of homelessness and need in Cleveland County since becoming a council member.

Throughout my tenure serving on the council, I have enjoyed watching the programs grow, especially the Red Shield Club, working with the officers and staff, and being part of the progress over the last few years. The program The Salvation Army of Cleveland County offers I am most proud of is the Red Shield Club. If we care for the children and teach them to care for and respect others they will in turn provide for a better society as they become adults.

The one word that personifies The Salvation Army to me is LOVE… there is truly no discrimination towards any person in need! I wish that others knew about the commitment of the officers and staff to make Cleveland County a better place to live and raise a family.

Although my awesome siblings and I, nine brothers and two sisters, experienced a troublesome childhood, we all grew into caring, respectful and giving adults due to a Godly grandmother and thanks to the assistance provided by The Salvation Army! Together we are “Doing the Most Good” and I feel blessed to be involved with such a caring and generous organization serving the people in our community.

Betty Goss, Advisory Council Member
The Salvation Army of Cleveland County

To make a gift to support The Salvation Army’s many programs and services, please text HopeOKC to 41444 or go online https://app.mobilecause.com/form/drynoA

 

Story of Hope: Patricia

Patricia and her husband worked for 27 years in door-to-door sales by traveling around the country making a living. But due to some health issues Patricia was facing, they came off the road and settled in Oklahoma City. Arriving with nothing but what they had with them, Patricia and her husband stayed in a local shelter to begin again.

After two weeks, Patricia’s husband had a job and three months later, they were in an apartment of their own. Patricia found doctors who helped control her health issues and their lives seemed to be rolling along smoothly until six months later when a storm flooded their apartment. It was condemned and though they quickly found a new place, an increase in their monthly rent became a heavy burden.

Then Patricia’s husband’s hours were cut back. Finally, Patricia stepped out of her comfort zone and asked for help.

“The fear of a lot of people who are in my situation is judgment. When you have to ask for help with certain things you feel less than,” Patricia shared. “But here at The Salvation Army, when I come here to the pantry, they don’t make me feel less than. They just make me feel that they’re here to help me and anything I need; they’re going to do their best to help and I appreciate that. It makes a big, big difference in a person’s life.”

It was hard for Patricia to ask for help that first time but since then, she’s never looked back.

“Without The Salvation Army’s food pantry, we’d be short on food every month. The money runs out once you pay the rent and utilities. Whatever’s left is for food and that’s very little.”

Because of your generous support of The Salvation Army, families like Patricia’s are provided with groceries that feed them for a month. We could not help Patricia without your support and on her behalf, we say thank you.

If you’d like to continue supporting our Client Choice Food Pantry:

  • Sign up to volunteer by contact Liz Banks, volunteer coordinator, at 405-246-1107 or banks@uss.salvationarmy.org.
  • Host a food drive for the pantry! Contact Liz Banks for more information.
  • Donate now by giving online. Click here to give.

10 Reasons You Should Volunteer To Be A Bell Ringer This Christmas

The holidays are a fun time of the year with festivities constantly planned with family, friends and coworkers! The celebrations are a great reminder of what’s really important in life. Looking for a new way to give back with your family, friends or coworkers? Bell ringing is a great opportunity to bring everyone together and impact your community. Need more convincing? Read through the ten reasons below why you should sign up to bell ring!
1. Start a Family Tradition

So many families try to volunteer during the holidays to instill the value of giving back to the community in their children. Ringing a bell is a great way to introduce them to volunteer work. It is simple enough that even the youngest child can help, but the impact is huge.

2. Be the Sounds of the Season

It really doesn’t feel like Christmas until you hear the first bell ringing. You can be a part of sharing holiday joy by providing the sounds of the season.

3. Hear Uplifting Stories from People Impacted by The Salvation Army

When people walk by the kettles, more often than not, they stop by with a story to tell. Whether they were once helped by The Salvation Army, used to volunteer or know someone who was a recipient of some sort of service, the stories they share are enlightening and uplifting.

4. It Becomes a Game

I personally started a competition with myself: how many people can I get to donate that walk through the doors? I wanted to greet everyone and share the message of The Salvation Army, which is to do the most good. I began to count how many people in a row I could get to donate, and then when someone didn’t donate, I started over. It was actually really entertaining!

5. The Money You Raise Directly Impacts Your Community

The Red Kettle Campaign is The Salvation Army’s largest fundraiser. 85% of everything raised by the Red Kettle Campaign goes directly back into the community, meaning it helps feed the hungry, keep people warm through the cold winter months, help at risk youth and many other programs that The Salvation Army offer.

6. You Can Learn How Much You Raised

After you ring the kettle, the kettle coordinator will collect your kettle and put a tag in the kettle, indicating that you were the person who rang. The next day, if you call the Corps, they will tell you how much you raised in the time you volunteered. It is incredibly rewarding to know that you donated four hours of your time and raised money that is going to a really good cause – at virtually no cost to you.

7. Christmas Caroling

Christmas Caroling is one of the best parts of the holiday season. Nothing says, “It’s Christmastime” like hearing people singing their favorite holiday tunes. It is a great excuse to sing your favorite carols without having the potential awkwardness of singing directly to someone by knocking on their door or visiting their home.

8. A Reason to Wear Tacky Christmas Sweaters

Dressing up to ring bells makes it even more fun! The Salvation Army thrift store has a wide array of Christmas sweaters throughout the year that make great holiday attire. You can wear your favorite tacky Christmas sweater, dress like Santa or Mrs. Clause, an elf, a reindeer or you can get creative!

9. It’s Fun

It is actually a lot of fun! Grab your family or a group of friends and make a day out of it. Pack your hot chocolate, some cookies and your camera and you have a fun holiday spirited outing! You can dance around, sing carols and really make it a fun event! The more joy the merrier the kettle!

10. Be a Part of the Legacy

The Red Kettle Campaign has a deep history in America. It began in 1891 in San Francisco when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee wanted to provide a free Christmas dinner to families who needed it. He decided to adapt an idea that was originally developed in Liverpool, England where people could throw some change into a pot to help the poor. Six years later, it spread to the East Coast and continued to grow into the tradition it is today, spreading throughout the entire United States and across the world. That’s a pretty exciting thing to be a part of!

 

Did we convince you?

To ring in Oklahoma County, contact Lt. Kyle Madison at 405-246-1063 or kyle.madison@uss.salvationarmy.org to sign up.

To ring in Cleveland County, contact Ernie Potter at 405-579-5442 or NormanKettles@uss.salvationarmy.org. You may also text 405-816-0382. Please provide your name, address, phone number and email when reaching out.

To ring in Canadian County, contact Lois DeBerry at 405-323-8846 or lois.deberry@uss.salvationarmy.org to sign up.

Salvation Army in Central Oklahoma to Serve on Front Lines of Hurricane Matthew

Oklahoma City, OK (October 6, 2016) – The Salvation Army offices in Central Oklahoma will be busy serving those affected by the effects of Hurricane Matthew. Kenny Kelly, Emergency Disaster Services Coordinator for the Central Oklahoma Area Command, will deploy to the Incident Command Center in Brunswick, Georgia to serve as the Operations Chief for The Salvation Army operations in St. Mary’s. As the Operations Chief, Kelly will have the overall responsibility for managing all direct service activities such as mass feeding and case management for the disaster relief operation.

Cindy Fuller, Divisional Communications Director, is being deployed to the Incident Command Center in Brunswick as well as the Public Information Officer (PIO). As the PIO, Fuller will be responsible for communicating critical information about The Salvation Army’s disaster relief activities to internal and external audiences, including the media, the general public and other Salvation Army units.

The Arkansas-Oklahoma Division is also deploying Officers from Conway, Mountain Home and Springdale, Arkansas as well as Enid, Lawton, Muskogee and Stillwater, Oklahoma to help those impacted by the Hurricane.

Resources from 13 states already mobilized for storm response.

Salvation Army disaster units from Florida to North Carolina are mobilizing to respond to Hurricane Matthew, a powerful tropical cyclone which is poised to cause extensive damage in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Salvation Army is also activating resources from across the country to support the recovery effort; this includes personnel and equipment from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia. Additional resources from across the United States are on stand-by.

The Salvation Army has 75 mobile feeding units, capable of producing 1,500 meals per day, are stationed in states threatened by Hurricane Matthew. These include 32 units in Florida, 22 units in Georgia, and 20 canteens in the North & South Carolina Division. In addition, The Salvation Army has already activated the following additional units from other divisions:

· Three Kentucky & Tennessee divisional canteens have been deployed to Greenville, SC
· Three Maryland & West Virginia divisional canteens have been deployed to Raleigh, NC
· Six Alabama, Louisiana & Mississippi divisional canteens have been deployed to Florida
· Ten Texas divisional canteens have been requested to deploy to a temporary staging area in Tallahassee
· Seven National Capital & Virginia divisional canteens are on standby.

Two field kitchens, capable of producing 15,000 per day are stationed in Florida. A third field kitchen from Texas is being deployed to the temporary staging area in Tallahassee. Two additional field kitchens, located in Texas and Mississippi, are on-stand-by.

The Salvation Army has deployed two satellite communications units in support of disaster operations; one unit is deploying to Florida and the second is stationed in North Carolina.

Salvation Army liaisons are being dispatched to state emergency operations centers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center in Atlanta. The Salvation Army is also staffing numerous county emergency operations centers in impacted states.

How People Can Help
The best way to help after a disaster is to make a financial donation to the charity of your choice. Cash is flexible, can be used immediately in response to a crisis, and allows disaster relief organizations to purchase exactly what is needed, when it’s needed. Cash gives relief organizations the means to procure supplies near the affected area, which cuts down on transportation time and cost. Monetary contributions also support local economies and ensure that businesses can operate when relief supplies diminish.

It’s easy to support The Salvation Army’s disaster relief program:

  • Donate Online: http://give.salvationarmyusa.org/hurricane_matthew
  • Donate By Mail: The Salvation Army PO BOX 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301
    Please designate ‘Hurricane Matthew’ on all checks.
  • Donate By Phone: 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769)
  • Donate By Text: Text STORM to 51555 to receive a donation link for easy mobile giving

About The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar spent is used to carry out those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.

 

Letting God Lead – Ryan Frace’s Volunteer Story

Ryan Frace- facebookRyan Frace was first introduced to The Salvation Army because his son was invited to help serve dinner in the Red Shield Diner with his cousins. After that night, Ryan’s son couldn’t stop talking about the experience and they looked forward to the next opportunity to serve.

Flash forward a few months and the opportunity opened for Ryan to join the advisory board. “I was honored to serve in any capacity,” Ryan shared.

“I gave my life to Christ three years ago and there’s always been that discussion of how I can serve. Whether it’s a mission trip or maybe a local opportunity – often you don’t know where to go. I believe The Salvation Army literally fills that gap inside you that’s wondering how to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Not only has his willingness to serve impacted him personally, but the impact has spread to his family, friends and neighbors. It has opened an outlet for him and those around him to give back.

Ryan's son, right, helps another volunteer tie his apron.

Ryan’s son (right) helps another volunteer.

“They’re using your resources in a way that makes you proud as a Christian to say, ‘They’re really impacting lives’ – regardless if those they’re serving believe Jesus is the Son of God or not. I love that because eventually they will realize why people like The Salvation Army act so selflessly. It’s because they love others.”

One of the biggest impacts it’s made on Ryan: it’s made him grateful. Grateful for those basics – food, shelter, clothing – that so many take for granted. When he’s downtown for a Thunder game or dinner, the knowledge that individuals are living under the bridge just three blocks away is a constant reminder to be grateful.

“The need is always around. Whether we choose to look for it or see it is a whole other thing. The mission is right down the street. There are so many different avenues to help with your time and efforts. It’s motivating to know that it’s just up to you.”

The adventure that Ryan has experienced is greater than anything entertainment can give and it’s even better for him because he knows his time is making an impact on others.

Three years ago you probably would not have found Ryan serving others, but with God leading him the possibilities are endless.

“Christ will change you as much as you let Him.”

If you would like to serve your community like Ryan, contact us at 405-246-1107 or visit our volunteer page for our current opportunities. If you would like to financially support our programs, click the Donate button above.

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, click the Donate Now button above and financially support our shelter programs.

Spreading Smiles: A Volunteer’s Mission of Hope

Geryl - WebsiteGeryl Force came with his wife to volunteer on our first Thanksgiving Day in The Salvation Army Chesapeake Energy Center of Hope. They were two of the 350 volunteers who came through our building that day.

“It made it easy for us as volunteers to be able to serve everybody like they wanted to be served – like they were personally being served by a person. If they needed anything, we could go get it for them. With that many volunteers, we waited on them hand and foot, you could say.”

After the holiday, Geryl began volunteering in the Client Choice Food Pantry. He loves talking with the clients who come for the food assistance program and strives to make them each feel appreciated.

“Since I’ve started volunteering in the pantry, I’ve really enjoyed it. I have fun with the people. We joke around. They talk and I listen if they’ve got something they need to say to get it off their chest. I try to be a listener as well as communicate with them because I like to listen to what they have to say. If they have any problems, they can talk to me. I can’t solve them but at least I can listen.”

It’s been eye-opening for Geryl too as he sees the need in our community for food assistance. The clients are so grateful, continually expressing their thanks, which puts a smile on his face that he shares with the next person.

“I try to have some fun with them. They laugh, and it puts a smile on their face.”

Better than Daytime Television

Debra Gibbons - FacebookDebra Gibbons approached the Angel Tree booth at Penn Square Mall eight years ago with the intention of adopting an Angel. Debra had been blessing a young girl with Christmas for years on her own but as the girl had moved, she wanted to continue blessing another family.

As she talked with the volunteer at the booth, Debra began to ask questions about volunteer opportunities at The Salvation Army. The volunteer encouraged her to attend a Women’s Auxiliary meeting to see all of the ways the ladies support the programs and services of The Salvation Army.

Debra joined soon after and immediately jumped in with both feet serving as president for two years.

“As I get older, I see how short life is and the need for volunteering and then you realize you have all eternity to rest,” she laughed. “And, daytime television is terrible! But joking aside, I felt a calling here.”

Debra has given countless hours over the last eight years selflessly serving the community in any capacity necessary – even if it means answering the phones.

Story of Hope: From Parking Lot to Food Pantry

JamesJames Dixon prayed a simple prayer upon retirement – “God, put me in a place where I can serve Your people with the opportunity of changing their lives.” James, our client choice food pantry manager, gets that opportunity every week as individuals leave, changed by the food assistance they receive at The Salvation Army.

But James didn’t come to The Salvation Army for a job. He started his service as a volunteer parking cars at the Senior Living Fair in 2014.

“I saw they needed volunteers through my church and decided to help. I met the volunteer coordinator who invited me to help with the food pantry program and I fell in love with working alongside The Salvation Army.”

James went from three hours a week to nine hours in just a short time. Volunteering at the Angel Tree distribution center during Christmas he felt such compassion for the people coming in who had so little yet were so grateful.

A military veteran of the Vietnam War, James has seen a lot during his life. Yet, the most amazing thing to him is those moments in the food pantry when someone comes in to find hope.

“I’ve learned a lot in my lifetime, and I still have a lot more to learn, but one of the most beautiful moments is when I’m here in this place helping others in need.”

Today, James is living out that request he asked of God several years ago. He has the privilege to work in the Client Choice Food Pantry where lives are changed not only with food, but with love and hope.

If you would like to get involved at The Salvation Army, you can:

  • Volunteer: Contact Liz Banks at 405-246-1107 or liz_banks@uss.salvationarmy.org to give of your time and talents to one of our programs like the Client Choice Food Pantry.
  • Collect non-perishable items – oatmeal, cereal, applesauce, boxed dinners, peanut butter, canned tuna or chicken, canned soup, rice, & powdered, dry or shelf milk – and perishable items – milk, eggs, cheese, juice, frozen vegetables & meat – for the Client Choice Food Pantry.
  • Click the Donate Now button above and give a financial gift to the Client Choice Food Pantry.