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Sharing Love

Sharing Love in Oklahoma…Every Day in Every Way

Sharing Love

Every day in every way, The Salvation Army continues to help the people of Oklahoma. And as we are honored to help those who have gone through unspeakable tragedy, we are blessed by the resiliency of the human spirit.

On a recent afternoon, Lt. Josh Robinett from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and two volunteers, Jeff Davis and Dana Jensen, were roving through several neighborhoods in Moore making sure folks had a hot meal–hot dogs and mashed potatoes–and a cold drink as they continued to wade through the storm ravaged debris surrounding their homes–or where their homes used to be.

“This is the ultimate mission,” said Robinett, about roaming around in a canteen. “This is God’s love in action.”

And that love was very active.

Driving down streets, dodging piles of debris and other emergency response vehicles, tow trucks and insurance carriers, the crew would stop every several yards when they saw groups of people working–or were in an area where they thought people would be working. They didn’t want to miss a chance to feed someone or share a gentle word. At times Robinett and his crew would jump out of the canteen looking for folks only to find out that that they had their own supplies. That didn’t matter – it was the feeling of community was palpable. And in some ways that was the most important.

At one location, three generations of one family were together–grandfather, son and grandson. After talking with the grandfather for a bit he shared with us that his grandson had been at Plaza Elementary School on May 20 the day the tornado hit. He choked up while sharing how he told his son about the tornado and that his grandson was taken out of the school before it was hit. “What could have been…,” said the patriarch of the family, as he cried, continuing to realize that his grandson’s life was saved. That story also brought this canteen worker to tears. Before we left, this dear boy whose life had been saved, gave Lt. Robinett a big hug, thanking him for the Gatorade.

Another couple of friends we met and fed lost their home but not their nine dogs. They were saved. And another home owner had lost his home, but everyone in his family was alive and well. He was smiling as he shared with us that he was looking to God for the next steps.

And then we fed those volunteering to clean up the neighborhood. One volunteer was visiting the area for her 30 birthday and said this was the best way to celebrate. About the hot dog she was eating from a Styrofoam plate–she said it was the best she ever had.

Canadian-Students-Volunteer

Canadian Students Volunteer in Disaster Response

Hattiesburg, MS (February 20, 2013)—As eight students from the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada departed for a winter break Race and Poverty tour of south Central Mississippi, little did they know that the trip would turn into a humanitarian effort.

Arriving in Hattiesburg on the Monday following the tornado, the students immediately changed their plans to study the history of race and poverty in Mississippi to helping in the clean up and recovery of Hattiesburg and the Pine Belt.

As with many storm stories emanating from Hattiesburg over the last week this one has a link back to Hurricane Katrina seven years prior. Leaning on the sister school exchange program with the University of Southern Mississippi, students from the University of Guelph descended upon Hattiesburg to assist with cleanup following Katrina’s historic destruction. Many students volunteered with The Salvation Army in their recovery efforts.

Seven years later the partnership found new life as the students from “up north” traded in the text books for a hands on learning experience. Throughout the week, the eight Guelph students labored in Hattiesburg neighborhoods serving meals, distributing supplies and shooting hoops with children at The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.

Student Della Rose described her experience as “a great experience. We have gotten to see things and meet people we would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.”

Some of the hardest hit areas of Hattiesburg would best be described as fitting into the poverty demographic and also the most affluent. As the students volunteered it was a hand on lesson in how storms and destruction are indiscriminate. At the same time students have been able to see how the lingering effects of a storm have a more lasting impact on the poor and elderly.

As residents have begun their clean up, it has been apparent how the Mississippi spirit of community has impacted this recovery. Residents are working side by side with volunteers from across the state and as far away as Canada, learning the lessons of partnership and service.

The students will continue their service on Wednesday handing out food boxes and clean up kits in neighborhoods east of USM and east of Downtown Hattiesburg.

Financial donations are still needed to support disaster relief efforts. The Salvation Army asks those who want to help to visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and designate Disaster Relief. Donors may text “GIVE” to 80888. Checks may be made out to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 100339, Atlanta, GA 30384-0339. Monetary donations will ensure The Salvation Army can meet the most immediate needs of those impacted by disaster.

About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination since 1865. Nearly 33 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year. The Salvation Army provides food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, and outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing, shelter and opportunities for underprivileged children. About 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in nearly 9,000 communities nationwide. For more information go to www.salvationarmyusa.org, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY, or send a check to your local Salvation Army earmarked for disaster relief.

Volunteers Find Worth through Emergency Service

New Orleans, LA (September 8, 2012)—When a disaster strikes, no matter how small or large, one thing is certain: mobile feeding units (canteens) from The Salvation Army are not far away. The non-profit organization has been on the scene to help those affected and the first responders during countless natural disasters in the United States. The canteens come stocked with essentials: food, drinks, clean-up kits and comfort kits. They are driven and staffed by Salvation Army employees and trained volunteers.

Trained volunteers are effective volunteers. During a disaster, The Salvation Army relies upon trained disaster workers to coordinate emergency relief operations and deliver fast, efficient service to disaster survivors. The organization’s national disaster training program includes courses developed by The Salvation Army and training certified by other partner organizations whose technical expertise is nationally recognized in a given field.

When Hurricane Isaac made landfall in the greater New Orleans area, the organization deployed over 50 employees and trained volunteers from seven states. Two of those experienced volunteers are Pamelia Phelps and Mary Jane Denny, better known as PJ and MJ, from Elberton, Georgia. Both women have served on countless mission trips around the world, many with their church and most recently on a trip to Ecuador with The Salvation Army in May.

Chair of her local command’s Advisory Board, PJ has served with the organization in two previous disasters. Of her experience, Hurricane Irene is the largest-scale disaster response she has been a part of.

“I love helping people,” she says while serving chili to those affected in St. John Parish. “People don’t realize that these people are hungry and need something to eat and drink. What we do for them makes their life a little better.”

Her friend MJ agrees. “It’s been a very rewarding experience for me. Everyone is so appreciative. They all say thank you. It’s been phenomenal.”

Both women encourage others to join with them, sign up for the organization’s disaster response training, and help others in need.

“It’s worth it,” PJ says. “Everyone should be involved with The Salvation Army.”

About The Salvation Army:
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 129 years in the United States. 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 The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.

Salvation Army Disaster Volunteer Finds New Purpose from Hospital Bed

New Orleans, LA—When leaving for New Orleans, LA, longtime disaster services volunteer David Carlise never expected to perform his Hurricane Isaac response work from a hospital bed. Five days later, from his Oschner Hospital bed in Gretna, David is having a greater impact on individuals than he ever imagined.

David Carlise and Alton Ming arrived in New Orleans with their fully loaded Salvation Army mobile feeding unit (Canteen), Friday, August 31, after driving more than 300 miles. Prepared to serve for 14 days, David and Alton had plans for long days of cooking, feeding, and sharing a tear or a laugh with the thousands in need from Hurricane Isaac. But a Saturday morning emergency trip to the hospital changed everything and has led to a new path of service and ministry for David.

At home in Columbus, MS, David Carlise spends his Sundays worshiping at The Salvation Army church. David’s strength of faith has led members of his attending hospital staff and others to seek a personal relationship with Christ or to learn more about the Bible’s teachings. He arrived prepared to feed empty stomachs and has found his days filled with feeding hungry minds and hurting hearts, quickly becoming The Salvation Army’s model for emotional and spiritual care in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

“This is not where I expected to spend my time in New Orleans.” said David Carlise. “I am supposed to be out in the community, in the canteen, feeding people. But God certainly had another plan for me and I’m blessed to do His work.”

Demonstrating further that David is part of a larger plan, his arrival at the hospital was by mistake. The responding ambulance crew was unfamiliar with the New Orleans area and transported him to the wrong location. Upon his arrival, David began witnessing to two people in the emergency room. After being placed in a semi-private room, David had the opportunity to share prayer with his roommate and roommate’s brother, who openly stated he wasn’t sure about Jesus. The brothers later began praying on their own.

Yet to be released from the hospital, David has witnessed to nine people, with five accepting Christ.

“We have our own David the evangelist,” said Salvation Army Major Jean Wilson, director of Emotional and Spiritual Care. ”He is living God’s plan and reminding us all what it means to be in service. You never know when or how God will use us, and we have to trust that it is His plan. Whether people wants us to pray with them or just to listen, we are here to serve.”

The organization has served over 61,500 hot meals, 71,512 drinks, and 45,515 snacks in Mississippi and Louisiana since Hurricane Isaac response began, Salvation Army crews have also ministered to nearly 2,200 people with emotional and spiritual care.

For more information regarding The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Service program please visit www.disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.

The Salvation Army asks people who want to help those affected by the 2012 Hurricane Season to visit www.salvationarmyusa.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).

Donors may also contribute $10 via their phone bill by text* messaging the word “Storm” to 80888, and confirming the donation with the word,“Yes.”

Checks may be made out to The Salvation Army Disaster Relief, PO BOX 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301. Please designate “2012 Hurricane Season” on all checks.

At this point, in-kind donations are not being accepted. Used clothing and used furniture are seldom required during an incident. However, these gifts are vitally important in supporting the day-to-day work of your local Salvation Army. Please consider giving these items to your local Salvation Army Family Store or dial 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).

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About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for 128 years in the United States. Nearly 29 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. About 83 cents of every dollar raised is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.

*A one time donation of ($10) will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. Message & Data Rates May Apply. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and TMobile. By participating you certify that you agree to the terms and conditions, that you are 18 yrs or older, or have parental permission, and have authorization from the account holder. Donations are collected for the benefit of The Salvation Army by the Innovative Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at igfn.org/t. Privacy policy: igfn.org/p. Text STOP to (80888) to stop; Text HELP to (80888) for help.