Salvation Army Texas http://www.salvationarmytexas.org The Official Site of The Salvation Army of Texas Mon, 05 Dec 2016 22:08:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Christmas Message From The Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/christmas-message-salvation-army/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 22:05:24 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14580

A Christmas Message From The Salvation Army

Joy to the World. The very thought of Christmas time brings with it a sense of joy. We think of fun gatherings with friends and family, the wonderful smells and tastes associated with Christmas, and of course the decorations and lights around the house and presents wrapped under the tree.

However, for many people in our community the holiday season can bring a sense of dread and stress. Family budgets already stretched to a breaking point feel the added pressure of delivering Christmas presents to expectant children. Utility bills and rent payments waiting to be paid fall down the priority list as the commercial side of Christmas takes over. Those without family nearby can feel isolated and lonely as others gather to celebrate.

Thankfully, through our committed donors, staff and volunteers, The Salvation Army delivers comfort, encouragement, and joy to many at this time of year. Generous families and individuals adopt Angels — both children and seniors — through The Salvation Army Angel Tree program and provide gifts to be opened on Christmas morning. Busy shoppers answer the call of the ringing bells by dropping their change into the red kettles, providing financial support for Salvation Army programs that deliver assistance year-round in Texas. Thank you for your support!

In this issue of Lone Star you will read about several people who have decided to “pay it forward” and truly make a difference in the lives of others. As you celebrate with family and friends this season we pray that you will not lose sight of the true reason for the season. Amidst all of the lights and glitter, the giving and receiving of gifts, it is our prayer that you will indeed experience the full Joy of Christmas.

Joy to the World, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!

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Making a Difference From One Heart to the Next http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/making-difference-one-heart-next/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:59:11 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14577

Making a Difference From One Heart to the Next

Christmases were special for Elena De La Garza. “Like any other child I grew up believing in Santa Claus and I remember waking up to amazing gifts on Christmas morning. It wasn’t until I was 22 years of age that I found out that my Santa Claus was actually The Salvation Army Angel Tree.”

Elena grew up in Weslaco, Texas, with five siblings. She recalls that her parents had little choice but to seek help from local churches as they struggled to provide for the family. “The Salvation Army would drop off donated clothes for us and other families, “said Elena. “I’d be so excited and feel ‘rich’ sometimes when I got name brand clothes. I remember getting a pair of Guess pants and felt like I was finally going to fit in with the rest of the kids.”

Now living in Austin, Elena has a successful career and a desire to make a difference in the lives of families in need. In 2015 she created a GoFundMe page, an online fundraising website, and encouraged her friends, family members, and work colleagues to donate to The Salvation Army.

“In five months I raised $13,036.26. I wanted to be able to reach people across the USA and let them know how easy it was to give and that only $1 a day can make a difference,” said Elena. “I might only be one person but the power of many can make significant change.”

Elena hopes to raise $10,000 this year in support of The Salvation Army. “I give to The Salvation Army because I believe that my donation can make a difference in someone’s life in one way, shape or form. Because I was once on the other side of the spectrum — poor, in need of help, love and support. Now as a strong successful woman, it’s my duty to give back.

“The Angel Tree is a godsend, both for the child receiving a gift on Christmas morning, and for the parent knowing that their child did not have to go without,” said Elena. “It really gives families hope for the New Year.”

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Act of Kindness to One Multiplies to Help Many http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/act-kindness-one-multiplies-help-many/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:14:47 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14574

Act of Kindness to One Multiplies to Help Many

Kasey Simmons was at his local grocery store when he noticed that a lady in front of him looked upset.

“I told her that she was beautiful and asked how she was doing,” said Kasey, who works as a server at Applebee’s.

The lady explained she was having a rough day as it was the three-year anniversary of her husband’s death. To cheer her up, Kasey insisted on paying her grocery bill.

“It was only $17 but she smiled and seemed to feel a bit better,” said Kasey. “She told me that 53 years ago she first met her husband when he offered to buy her groceries.”

The next night Kasey was working at Applebee’s. A family of four came in and ordered only a few drinks. Kasey was slammed. He felt bad for his slow service so he brought them a check for the cheapest menu item — syrup for a flavored drink costing only 37 cents.

Later, Kasey discovered they had left him a $500 tip and a message on a napkin. The message told of a daughter’s gratitude for his kindness to her mother at the store. It read, “On one of the most depressing days of the year (the death of my father, three-year anniversary) you made my mother’s day wonderful. She has been smiling since you did what you did.”

In response to Kasey’s act of kindness, Applebee’s management announced they would donate 15 percent of net sales from the restaurant the following Sunday to the charity of Kasey’s choice. Kasey selected The Salvation Army.

He explained why.

“About six years ago we went to The Salvation Army for help. We were having a hard time and they were there to support us, giving us clothes and shoes for the kids, and they even helped us out with a couple of bills that we couldn’t afford. I’ll never forget that the people there were so friendly and helpful. They couldn’t do enough for us.

“I know that The Salvation Army helps a lot of people at Christmas, with food and gifts for children who might not receive anything on Christmas morning. I always try and drop something in the red kettle as I walk past,” said Kasey.

“For me, I always follow my instincts. I believe in God as my higher power, and so when I feel those instincts I believe it’s God leading me.”

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Why I Give to The Salvation Army http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/give-salvation-army/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:10:34 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14572

Why I Give to The Salvation Army

Mr. Johnson faithfully supports The Salvation Army. He grew up in Oklahoma as part of a family consisting of 18 children! Can you even imagine having 17 brothers and sisters?

“I remember how The Salvation Army would help us out for Christmas and Thanksgiving every year,” said Mr. Johnson. “They would bring food for the family and Christmas presents for us kids. If it wasn’t for The Salvation Army we would definitely have gone without each year.”

Moved to tears as he recounted stories of The Salvation Army from his childhood, Mr. Johnson, explained this was the motivation for his lifelong support of the Army. “Because of my experience as a child with The Salvation Army, I give at Christmas time so that I can pay it forward and help other children, just like me and my siblings, experience some joy at Christmas,” he said.

“I’ll never forget what The Salvation Army did for my family.”

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Doll Tea Celebrates 30 Years http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/doll-tea-celebrates-30-years/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 21:04:25 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14565

Doll Tea, a Montgomery County Christmas
Tradition, Celebrates 30 Years

One of the holiday highlights in Montgomery County is the parade of well-dressed dolls and bears on display at the annual Doll Tea.

“We have bears dressed as super heroes, sports figures, soldiers and cowboys, to name a few, and dolls as brides, angels, cheerleaders, nurses and nuns. They are so creative and seem to always top the year before,” said Suann Hereford, who attended her first Doll Tea in the late 1980s with her grandmother.

It became something she and her grandmother looked forward to every year. “It was our special time at Christmas. My grandmother bought a doll or bear from the tea every year until she passed away in 2014 (at the age of 103),” said Suann. “I was invited to help in 1991 and I have volunteered every year since then.”

Originally called the Christmas Silver Tea, the event, first held in December 1986, was the idea of Ann Moore. Mrs. Moore was a great supporter of The Salvation Army and instilled her love for service into her daughters, Susie and Bonnie. Today a committed team of volunteers, including Susie and Bonnie, work tirelessly on the annual Doll Tea to benefit those helped by The Salvation Army.

Initially the tea was strictly a dolls-only event until it was pointed out that there was nothing for the little boys who attended with their sisters, mothers and grandmothers. That was when teddy bears were added to the tea — a great addition!

The two-hour Doll Tea is hosted each year in a different home that is decorated for Christmas. More than 400 people are invited. Individuals and groups, including students and employees of Lone Star College Kingwood and the Rotary Club of East Montgomery County, dress the dolls and bears to be displayed and sold at the event.

“Each year we have about 200 dolls and bears, a silent auction and a general sale,” said Suann. “The tea generally raises more than $5,000 for The Salvation Army and any dolls and bears that do not sell are given to local children through the Angel Tree program.

“Christmas is a special time and we want to support The Salvation Army as it helps families, children and senior citizens during the holidays,” said Suann. “But we know that there are needs in our community all year long and The Salvation Army is here to serve.”

Suann’s first involvement with The Salvation Army was the Doll Tea and after several years she began helping with kettles during the Christmas season. “Last year, I was invited to join the local Advisory Council and now I am serving as the Secretary,” Suann said. “I am honored to be involved and believe that The Salvation Army does great work in our community and around the world.”

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Support The Salvation Army Through Your Energy Plan http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/support-salvation-army-energy-plan/ Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:55:17 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14559
Donate to The Salvation Army through Gifted Energy

Support The Salvation Army
Through Your Energy Plan

Exciting news! You now have the POWER to support The Salvation Army through your electricity provider! The Salvation Army has partnered with GiftedEnergy.com, a website that offers electricity providers such as Reliant, Green Mountain Energy, Amigo Energy and many others. For every customer who signs up or renews their electricity through GiftedEnergy.com a 10 percent donation will be made to The Salvation Army in Texas, at no additional cost to the customer.

Be part of Doing The Most Good and help Texans in need by renewing your electricity through GiftedEnergy.com and selecting The Salvation Army as your preferred charity.

For more information please go to GiftedEnergy.com or call (888) 891-5568.

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The Salvation Army of Granbury Serving on the Front Lines http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/serving-on-the-front-lines/ Wed, 26 Oct 2016 20:54:05 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14507

The Salvation Army of Granbury
Serving on the Front Lines

Volunteers collect brand new Rapid Response Unit en route to Baton Rouge

Laurie, Donna, and Linda are all part of The Salvation Army of Granbury, Texas. The ladies attend regular Service Unit board meetings and are members of the Women’s Service League (WSL), working hard year-round to provide assistance to those less fortunate in Hood County. Both the Service Unit and the WSL are quick to participate in community projects. However, the three friends never anticipated they would be serving on the frontlines of Salvation Army disaster response in Baton Rouge!

rru-dedication-2Following damaging tornadoes in Hood County in 2013 Linda and Donna were among those who volunteered in serving the community.  After seeing the devastation tornadoes brought to their neighbors, they later expressed the desire to be more involved in disaster response efforts. Thus far a group of 12 individuals from Granbury have completed the necessary Salvation Army disaster training, qualifying them as registered disaster volunteers. The Salvation Army of Granbury felt so strongly called to serve others during disasters that in August they agreed to purchase their very own Rapid Response Unit (RRU). This vehicle is based on a catering truck design built around a Super Duty Ford F450 redesigned to fully maximize the ability to serve in times of disaster. The truck can pull disaster trailers, carry and deliver hot food and drinks, and has a large storage area for essential supplies.

The three ladies were minding their business when the call to deploy arrived on a Tuesday. By Sunday they were picking up their brand new RRU and on the road to Baton Rouge, LA, following historic and catastrophic flooding. “Our husbands took us to the gate and waved us goodbye!” said Donna. “We didn’t know quite what to expect when we got there but I was astounded at how organized it was,” said Donna. “Everyone had a job to do.”

Donna, Laurie and Linda were teamed up with experienced disaster responders working both at the distribution center and out in the worst affected communities. “We followed the procedures we had learned in the training,” said Linda – affectionately referred to as “Chief” by Laurie! “We were blessed to serve so many people and had many opportunities to pray with people, hug them, and listen to what they were going through. For me this is a very meaningful part of The Salvation Army’s work in disaster.”

“Residents were so grateful for the meals and help, even though many had lost everything. One guy even brought us cookies just to say thank you!” said Donna. “We’d drive into the neighborhoods, honk the horn and be ready to get to work. People would be there waiting for us. I wasn’t surprised because that food was good!” In addition to delivering hot food and snacks to people whose homes were flooded, the teams also provided refreshment and meals to first responders and partner agencies.

The ladies agreed that their experience volunteering with The Salvation Army in Baton Rouge was life changing. “Chief” and her two sidekicks will be ready and prepared, along with the Granbury Salvation Army disaster teams, for future disaster responses.

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Hurricane Matthew Update http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/hurricane-matthew-update/ Fri, 07 Oct 2016 14:50:35 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14489
Hurricane Matthew Radar Image

Hurricane Matthew Update

Atlanta, GA – Salvation Army disaster units are mobilizing to respond to Hurricane Matthew, a powerful hurricane, that has already caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and is now poised to cause extensive damage in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  The Salvation Army is also activating resources from Texas, including ten mobile kitchens that are headed to Tallahassee, Florida to provide assistance.

Disaster Response Overview

The Salvation Army Florida, Georgia, and North & South Carolina Divisions have set-up Incident Command teams at state and local levels.

The Salvation Army has 75 mobile feeding units, capable of producing 1,500 meals per day, stationed in states threatened by Hurricane Matthew.  These include 32 units in Florida, 22 units in Georgia, and 20 canteens in the Carolinas.  Twenty-two additional feeding units have been deployed from Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia to the effected area.  Seven more canteens are on standby in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Two field kitchens, capable of producing 15,000 per day are stationed in Florida.  A third field kitchen from Texas is being deployed to a 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.

Florida Division
The Salvation Army Florida Division is preparing to serve approximately 100,000 meals by Saturday.  The division is currently providing support to emergency workers and/or evacuation centers in numerous counties, including Brevard, Hillsborough, St. Lucie, St. John and Volusia counties.  All Florida disaster personnel and equipment from Key West to Pensacola are being mobilized to respond to Hurricane Matthew.

Georgia Division
The Salvation Army Georgia Division is currently supporting evacuation activities in the state and repositioning personnel and mobile feeding units for post-storm relief operations.  Canteen strike teams have been assigned to deploy to Savannah, Brunswick, and St. Mary’s, GA.   The Salvation Army of Savannah is currently providing food service at the Chatham County EOC and preparing to support critical workforce shelters within the county.  Two Salvation Army canteens will be dispatched to Augusta, GA, to support evacuation shelters there. The Salvation Army of Dublin, GA, is also providing food for local shelters.

North & South Carolina Division
The Salvation Army of North and South Carolina is providing mass care services in South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Matthew. Five canteens and three Salvation Army corps without a canteen from North and South Carolina are on the ground providing mass feeding support to Emergency Operations Centers in the following areas: Charleston County, Williamsburg County, Berkeley County, Dorchester County, Orangeburg County, Beaufort County, and Georgetown County. In addition, The Salvation Army is providing mass feeding to support evacuation operations at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, SC, and The Salvation Army of the Midlands is providing meals for the Richland County and Lexington County Sheriff Departments along with SC Highway Patrol who are staffing the traffic control points at I-26 and I-77.

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

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Coming Full Circle to Find a Future http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/coming-full-circle-find-future/ Thu, 25 Aug 2016 20:28:41 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14423

Coming Full Circle to Find a Future

Although Alicia Fontenot was raised a Christian, it did not deter her from being a rebellious adolescent. She dropped out of high school, ran away from home, and wound up in Las Vegas. It was there that Alicia met the father of her two sons. In relationships, she says she found herself tangled in a web of lies and deceit.

Alicia FontenotAlicia was by definition a statistic: a single mother who wandered from home to home of family and friends with two young boys in tow. She was a high school dropout with no career or job, trying to survive on very little money. “I felt beaten and defeated,” Alicia said. “I felt I failed my children and failed as a mother.”

A veil of mistakes haunted Alicia, leaving her fearful of her own future, as well that of her growing boys. She knew she had to make a commitment to turn her life around and, taking a leap of faith, returned to San Antonio, the place she ran away from many years earlier.

Shortly after moving back home Alicia heard about The Salvation Army’s programs for single mothers, connected with our Social Services Department, and was introduced to her Scattered Sites Program case worker Bryan Shea.

Within a few months of joining the program, Alicia and her sons had a place to call home, in a safe neighborhood. Her children received the opportunity to attend a good school and daycare. Alicia earned her high-school diploma and now attends Northwest Vista College.

“Bryan and the program set me on the road to repairing my life by helping me set goals and obtain them,” Alicia said. “I learned important financial skills: how to budget and save. I have embarked on achievements I thought were once impossible.”

Alicia is also now happily employed at Chicago Bagel & Deli, a family-owned restaurant, which also provides her with new experiences in the culinary business. She has always had a passion for cooking and says her job gives her another grand opportunity to learn and grow. She hopes to someday own a restaurant herself.

As for her sons, they are healthy, vibrant, and are also grateful for The Salvation Army’s Scattered Sites program.

“This program has reminded me of my abilities and my strength,” she said. “I re-gained my confidence and continue to strive to be a good mother. My family is living proof that trials and tribulations can bring you down but only you can decide to be counted out. All we need is a little help to restore our faith in God, humanity, and ourselves. I pray The Salvation Army continues to save and change other families lives as it has done for me.”

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Cooking for the Community http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/blog/cooking-for-the-community/ Thu, 25 Aug 2016 19:55:08 +0000 http://www.salvationarmytexas.org/?p=14413

Cooking for the Community

Rosa De La Mora was homeless and came to The Salvation Army to find shelter from a storm in McAllen, Texas in June 2005. “The shelter, dining hall and banquet hall were full of people because of severe weather,” Rosa said. She stayed for a few days and in that time found herself volunteering all around the building to stay busy.

Rosa De La Mora-CookingRosa checked into The Salvation Army shelter and continued to help out where needed, eventually becoming a regular volunteer in the kitchen. It wasn’t long until The Salvation Army posted a part-time cook position; Rosa applied, and was hired. She stayed at the shelter for three months and saved sufficient money so that she could move into an apartment with her two daughters.

After working in her part-time position for a year, Rosa became a full-time employee and later, with the help of Joe De Marino, a Salvation Army Advisory Board member, Rosa enrolled in a six-month culinary arts program at South Texas Community College. Upon completion of the culinary course she earned her certificate and eventually became head cook and supervisor of the Army’s kitchen in McAllen, a position she holds today.

“I have always given all I can through my work here at The Salvation Army. God gives me strength,” said Rosa, whose children have also become involved in Salvation Army church programs. “Volunteers and donations from the community have all been instrumental in making our feeding program possible and so successful.”

For the past 11 years, Rosa and her staff have prepared thousands of meals for the hungry and those experiencing homelessness in the community. In 2015 alone, The Salvation Army in McAllen served more than 75, 055 meals to shelter clients and individuals and families in the community. Additionally, Rosa has prepared meals for refugees and disaster victims, children enrolled in Salvation Army youth programs, and civic groups.

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