Archive for January, 2011

Central Oklahoma residents donated a record $561,020.99to the 2010 Red Kettle Christmas Campaign in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Canadian Counties, the highest amount ever raised in Central Oklahoma, said Central Oklahoma Salvation Army Area Commander Maj. Dan Proctor.

 Totals for Bellringing include:

            Oklahoma County: $438,157.99  (Goal was $433,000)

            Cleveland County: $96,363  (Goal was $95,000)

            Canadian County: $25,635.31 (Goal was $24,000)

The Salvation Army attributed the campaign’s ongoing success to the continued support of retailers who invited the Red Kettle bell ringers to their front doors, volunteers who gave their time and the overall generosity of the community.

 “This year’s Red Kettle results show the extraordinary compassion of local residents and retailers,” said Maj. Proctor. “We are extremely grateful to all the contributors that opened their hearts to help their neighbors.”

 Oklahoma City’s Red Kettle Christmas Campaign donations far exceeded last year’s record of $411,000 raised in Oklahoma County. The lack of snow days and higher awareness also contributed to the success of the 2010 campaign, said Maj. Proctor

Funds raised through the Annual Red Kettle Campaign helps fund Christmas and other programs throughout the winter, including the public food pantry, utility assistance, senior programs, shelter programs and The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs.

 “We are touched and humbled by the support of Central Oklahoma residents,” Proctor said. “Every dollar raised helps a family in need. With this generosity, The Salvation Army will continue to ‘Do the Most Good’ by providing hope and help to those who are suffering.”

 From its humble beginnings as a fundraiser started by a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco in 1891, the Red Kettle Campaign has grown into one of the most recognizable and important charitable outreach efforts in the United States. As part of the drive, more than 25,000 Salvation Army volunteers fan out across the country to ring bells and solicit spare change donations to the iconic red kettles from holiday shoppers. The nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars (and the occasional diamond ring or gold tooth) are all returned to help those in the communities where they were raised. Last year, the funds helped The Salvation Army serve more than 31 million Americans in need, including 6 million who received holiday assistance such as toys, coats, rent and utility assistance, among others.

Go to the Danforth Center in Oklahoma City – one of The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma’s five senior citizens centers – and you’ll be in the midst of a fierce competition.

The seniors are decked out in different color T-shirts, some with team names embroidered on. They’re yelling and shouting encouragement to team members as different seniors ply their skill in bowling. After a strike, the team whoops loudly, clapping each other on the back.

The man sitting in the mobile wheelchair is winning. He swoops his right arm back and launches it forward, the bowling ball streaking in a straight line towards the pins. The tiny elderly woman sitting in a chair beside him leans against her cane and watches.

Although many of The Salvation Army senior center guests are physically unable to bowl, they excel at the Wii bowling game. It’s so popular that the centers have started hosting Wii bowling tournaments for the seniors.

Every week, hundreds of elderly citizens visit one of The Salvation Army’s five senior centers for games, crafts, social activities, line dancing, yoga and tai chi and for a hot lunch. Many times, The Salvation Army’s buses travel to their homes to pick them up or take them shopping as well.

The senior programs are amongst the most important programs that The Salvation Army offers. For those living on a fixed income, hunger issues are always a pressing need. For many of the guests, the senior center lunch is the only hot meal they’ll receive in a day… sometimes it’s the only meal they receive.

At The Salvation Army Social Services office, the elderly are allowed to come to The Food Pantry every 10 days for grocery assistance. Why? Because in some cases, these clients only live on Social Security and $12 in food stamps weekly.

For elderly women, poverty is even greater. According to The U.S. Department of Labor:

  • Women are more likely to work in part-time jobs that don’t qualify for a retirement plan. And working women are more likely than men to interrupt their careers to take care of family members. Therefore, they work fewer years and contribute less toward their retirement, resulting in lower lifetime savings.
  • Of the 62 million wage and salaried women (age 21 to 64) working in the United States, just 45 percent participated in a retirement plan.
  • On average, a female retiring at age 65 can expect to live another 19 years, 3 years longer than a man retiring at the same age. Savings can increase a woman’s chances of having enough money to last during her retirement.
  • According to the Center for American Progress, the statistics of elder poverty is even more concerning:

    Currently, 3.4 million seniors age 65 and older live below the poverty line. Millions more are barely making ends meet just above the poverty line. While 9.4 percent of seniors had incomes in 2006 below the poverty threshold of $9,669 for an individual, and $12,186 for a couple, nearly a quarter of older Americans (22.4 percent) had family incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line.

    Do you know a senior who could benefit from programs offered by The Salvation Army? Can you reach out to a neighbor or relative who would like to attend a senior center that offers fun, friendship, volunteer opportunities and a meal?

    If so, call The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command at 405-246-1100 to speak to the Senior Department or the Social Services Department.

    Small gestures make a big difference.

    Haiti – As the cholera death toll in Haiti approaches 3,500 people, The Salvation Army continues to provide treatment to those who have been infected and prevention support to the wider community.

    Antibiotics, soap, bleach and oral rehydration supplies are essential in the fight against cholera.  Soap is provided weekly to more than 2,000 College Verena students and staff as well as to 13,000 people living in the nearby Place de la Paix Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

    The Port-au-Prince Salvation Army clinic has received supplies of soap, bleach, antibiotics and oral rehydration packets.  Operating in a temporary facility with limited space, the clinic has not been able to set up a treatment center but there is a treatment center operated by the Organization of International Ministry (OIM) in the IDP camp.  The Salvation Army works closely with the camp committee to provide adequate supplies for the center.

    Bethel Clinic, the Salvation Army’s hospital in Fond des Negres, operates a cholera treatment center containing 17 beds.  That center was quickly filled and an additional site is being organized with the assistance of the Haitian government.  Captain Felix Ezeh, the clinic administrator, reports eight cholera-related deaths at the hospital.  A pressure washing machine was purchased to improve the clinic’s disinfecting protocols.

    Cholera is an easily treated disease, but can be fatal if treatment is not started within three or four hours of becoming symptomatic.

    Every area of Haiti is impacted by the epidemic and many Salvation Army corps (churches) and schools are reporting infections in their communities.  The Couyot community is of particular concern because access to medical assistance is a five-to-seven hour walk and patients could die before reaching treatment.  A supply of oral rehydration packets and bleach has been sent to Couyot.

    The Salvation Army response to the cholera outbreak has been made possible through a donor from the Bahamas along with a grant from The Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory.  

     

    Report by Major Ron Busroe

    As the temperatures plummet into the single digits this week, The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command is ready to serve the homeless population of Central Oklahoma.

    While the Men’s Shelter normally holds 48 beds, Shelter Director Janet Miller says The Salvation Army is prepared for up to 100 more with extra cots, floor mats and blankets. Anyone needing a safe shelter from the cold weather is urged to visit the Shelter at 330 SW 4th St.

    “The homeless and those living on the streets are especially susceptible to such dangerous situations as hypothermia and frostbite,” said Miller. “Every year, we see a client with frostbite, which can be so dangerous to those without access to regular health care.”

    Normally, shelter residents are not allowed to stay at the shelter during the day, The Salvation Army allows clients to stay inside during extreme weather – when the temperatures drop below freezing during the day or get over 100 degrees during the summer.

    The Red Shield Kitchen is fully stocked and ready for additional people as well.

    Anyone needing shelter or assistance is urged to contact The Salvation Army Shelter at 246-1082 or to come by at 33o SW 5th St.

    Other tips from The Centers of Disease Control to keep warm during this cold snap:

    • Dress warmly and stay dry.
    • Wear a hat, scarf, and mittens.
    • Avoid frostbite.
    • if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly.
    • Avoid walking on ice or getting wet.
    • Notify friends and family where you will be before you go hiking, camping, or skiing.
    • Avoid traveling on ice-covered roads, overpasses, and bridges if at all possible.
    • If you are stranded, it is safest to stay in your car.

    Report from The Salvation Army Australia
    Emerald, Australia – It was mid-evening on January 4th as Majors Don and Eva Hill arrived home from another energy-draining day of feeding physical and spiritual food to flood-ravaged residents of a small Queensland town that had become an inland island.

     The retired Salvation Army officers were exhausted.  They had barely had a break since floodwaters entered Emerald (17,000 population) in central-west Queensland just after Christmas Day.

     The Hills were looking forward to a sleep-in next morning.  Salvation Army reinforcements had arrived from Blackwater – flown in by helicopter because it was the only way to reach the town located on the Nogoa River, which bisects Emerald’s main street.

     Other Salvation Army support was coming from Cairns, Canberra and Brisbane.  The Salvation Army’s Flying Padre helicopter from Mt Isa was also involved.

     Almost every day for two weeks, Don and Eva – relieving officers at Emerald Corps – served breakfast, lunch and dinner to hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes engulfed by the floodwaters.

     For most of late December and early January, Emerald was the worst affected town of a flood that turned a part of Queensland— the size of France and Germany into a sea.

     So damaging were the floods that Emerald Mayor Peter Maguire estimated it would take up to two years for Emerald to recover.  Emotionally, many residents will take much longer.  Everything they owned has gone.

     Don and Eva Hill officially retired from Salvation Army officership in 2007.  But they have always been available to serve where it helps. They answered a call to oversight Emerald Corps last July until new officers could be appointed in mid-January.

     They had arranged two weeks leave at the end of November.  But on December 3rd, the Hills received a call that ended their leave early.  Emerald was in terrible danger.

     Although, as flying padres for nine years shortly before retirement, they had been through floods and famine many times, this was the worst.

     ‘It breaks your heart,’ Major Don says after spending another night at an evacuation center.

     Don Hill is an experienced officer.  He has learned that in a crisis, there is a job to be done.  It’s apparent from our conversation that he doesn’t dwell for long on a disaster.  Nor does he allow the emotion to affect the job he has been given.

     His corps was on the least-affected eastern side of the main street bridge, which, by December 30th, was under water.  With the local council in charge, an evacuation center was quickly set up to accommodate evacuees.

     He gathered his corps membership – just a handful of devoted Salvationists.  They got a feeding program in place.  Some crossed to the other side of town to assist at other evacuation centers.

     From early morning to late night, they worked to help locals dispossessed of home and possessions to cope through the worst flood in Emerald’s history.

     Don’s evacuation center was handling up to 160 residents at any one time.  Across town, 300 people were cramming into other centers.

    At first, food was hard to find.  Local residents had been aware since early December that devastating floods were on the way.  Shops were selling out of food quickly as locals prepared for the water to enter their town.

     There were times, Don confesses, when he wasn’t sure if there would be food for the next day.  But it just kept turning up – day after day.

     ‘I don’t know where it was coming from,’ he said.  ‘But it came. Our evacuation center was at the local agricultural college.  We were given the support of the college’s two cooks and kitchen. One day when a truck pulled up with a load of food, one of the cooks who is not a professing Christian said:  “God must be real.”

     ‘I must say that I thanked God with all my heart at that moment.’

     The night we talked, Emerald’s main street bridge began to re-emerge from the muddy waters.  It was a hopeful sign.  Although the Blackwater reinforcements would allow Don and Eva a few days respite, Don was looking forward to the morning.

     ‘It’s important that I get over to the other evacuation centers to make sure that our corps folk are OK,’ he said.

     ‘We’re tired; yes.  We wish it would all just go away; yes.  But we have been sent here [Emerald] as Salvation Army officers.  We have a job to do.  And with God’s help, we will continue to do it until it’s time to hand over to somebody else.’

     By Bill Simmons

    Ted Williams - before and after the YouTube video that changed his life.

    A homeless man in Columbus, Ohio, who carried a sign touting his voice got a few minutes of video time, and the job offers started rolling in. He says he became interested in radio as a young man, but other things intervened, like drugs and alcohol.
    Clean for some months now, this man was among the hundreds who stand by major roadways with a sign asking for help. He traded his “golden radio voice” for dollars from drivers.
    Ted Williams was homeless. But he was hopeful.
    One person – just one – made a video of this fella doing his radio voice and put it on YouTube. That video went viral overnight, and within days, this homeless man had a numerous job offers and a new chance at life.
    Can you imagine changing someone’s life that much with one simple act?
    By taking that video, the author of the YouTube shot changed one man’s life in ways that he probably never imagined.
    Giving joy is the most joyous act a human being can do. Who can you reach out today to with a smile, a kind word, a simple favor or even just a kind thought?
    Whose life can you change with one simple act of kindness?
    Think about that today.
    Do whatever it takes to find your joy and then keep ramping up the level of your joy. It’s contagious.
    Joy attracts more joy… and you may just make a big difference today.

    Volunteers serve coffee out of The Salvation Army Emergency Canteen

    Volunteers are needed to help serve coffee at the Oklahoma Mission of Mercy’s free dental clinic Feb. 3, 4 and 5 at the Cox Convention Center.

    We’re going to need help for this free dental clinic extravaganza with serving coffee and hot chocolate to people waiting in line overnight. The four shifts are:

    Thursday night (Feb. 3) 11 p.m. – 1 a.m.
    Friday morning (Feb 4) 3 – 5 a.m.
    Friday night (Feb 4) 11 p.m. – 1 a.m.
    Saturday morning (Feb 5) 3 – 5 a.m.

    To volunteer, please call Lois Green at 405-246-1101.

    Linda Day, center, shows off the 278 lap blankets she made for seniors to Major Margaret Kennell, right, and Women's Auxiliary member Shirley Tabor.

    Linda Day of Midwest City knows how it feels not to be able to afford Christmas presents for her children. More than 50 years ago, Day and her husband faced a Christmas of poverty – bills piling up, no food and no gifts.

    They visited The Salvation Army where they lived, and they received toys for their kids plus a $15 food voucher that allowed them to purchase food for a Christmas dinner. She said The Salvation Army helped in other times as well, including a time when her husband had a new job that required white pants. They couldn’t afford to buy the white pants, but The Salvation Army gave them a pair.

    Decades later, Mrs. Day is giving back to the organization that lent a hand up throughout her family’ life. She decided to hand-make 267 lap quilts, which she donated this year to The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command as a way of giving back and saying thank you.

     “The Salvation Army has helped me in my life,” said Day. “I wanted to help someone too. I think this will be something I do every year.”

     Mrs. Day creates the lap blankets with her husband, who is also retired. The blankets were included with every senior citizen gift given by The Salvation Army over Christmas.