During the holiday season, bell-ringing Salvation Army Santas and their red donation kettles are a common sight outside shopping centers and grocery stores. However, The Salvation Army’s mission is far greater than just collecting seasonal donations for the poor. The organization allows individuals from all social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds to give back to their communities.
A HISTORY OF HUMANITARIANISM
William Booth, a British minister, had a dream to help those less fortunate than himself and founded what would eventually be known as The Salvation Army in London in 1865. In 1879, its first U.S. meeting was held in Philadelphia, and within several years its operations were expanded into twelve states, from New York to California. Astounded by the organization’s humanitarian works, President Grover Cleveland personally provided a warm endorsement for its mission. Many succeeding presidents followed suit, and the organization began to gain recognition.
The Salvation Army’s doors have been open for more than 100 years, expanding to hundreds of community and worship centers across the United States. Since the organization is solely funded through donations, the public’s contributions are the backbone that enable The Salvation Army to operate effectively. In addition to collecting financial donations during the holiday season, The Salvation Army also organizes a toy drive, allowing individuals to make a needy child’s Christmas wish list a reality. Donations of vehicles, clothing and household items are also accepted, with profits going towards aiding others. For those with tighter finances, The Salvation Army’s local facilities offer a variety of volunteer opportunities, all of which training can be provided for; duties include speaking at events, witnessing to others, teaching and cooking. Anyone can be a contributor and there are many ways to provide aid to those in need, locally or globally, through The Salvation Army.
SUPPORTING COMMUNITY WELFARE
The Salvation Army’s contributions reach far beyond the walls of their facilities, and extend into the local community, giving the less fortunate something to believe in. Over the years, The Salvation Army’s programs have evolved, providing special attention to the young, elderly, and lower income families. Senior camping is one way The Salvation Army looks after the well-being of older generations. Festivities can be arranged during the week or on weekends, depending on the individual’s liking. During these camping trips, seniors are given free food and drinks, and are encouraged to participate in outdoor recreational activities that are beneficial to their health. During the summer, various programs for children and teens are designed to nurture young minds and build lasting memories. Young people are taught by trained professionals in swimming, arts and crafts, sports, music, and more. Some of the first areas targeted at the youth camps are faith-building, education, and skill-development. These camps and programs are designed to help lead participants toward a richer life in their communities and in Christ.
Throughout the year, The Salvation Army’s facilities also provide housing for individuals seeking shelter, and offer job opportunities, training and education. They also provide adult rehabilitation for individuals struggling with substance abuse. The Salvation Army’s primary goal is to administer faith while improving education and self-value, ultimately giving individuals the necessary skills for a better future.
The Salvation Army’s mission is far greater than just collecting seasonal donations for the poor. The organization allows individuals from all social, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds to give back to their communities.
GETTING MORE INVOLVED
Opportunities to be a part of The Salvation Army don’t stop with monetary and material donations, you can also be trained and educated through The Salvation Army to better serve others; becoming certified humanitarians and acting as officers in disaster relief missions around the globe. The curriculum combines theory and field practice, including Salvation Army doctrine, sociology and social work, psychology, Salvation Army regulations, homiletics, public speaking, Bible studies, church history, composition, community relations, business administration, accounting, and music.
This is indeed the time to give of ourselves unto others. Faith is believing in and hoping for a better way in our world. So when you feel the chill of winter coming and hear the Christmas bells echoing in the distance from a Santa collecting donations for The Salvation Army, stop and make a donation, or commit to doing one of the many things you can do to help the world through The Salvation Army.
For a more in-depth look at The Salvation Army and ways you can contribute, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org.