Salvation Army’s troops ride to the rescue
This week The Salvation Army is expected to help 3,000 children and 1,400 adults by providing food and Christmas gifts to those unable to afford anything else this holiday season.
A line of cars stretched around the Regional Center complex along D Road as people waited in line at The Salvation Army’s distribution center, in the Army National Guard Armory on Monday morning.
Those who waited in the long line were preregistered for the distribution and expected to receive a food box filled with fresh fruit, potatoes and carrots, a frozen turkey and other Christmas dinner fixings.
Gifts were available to parents in the toy store, where they could select a large gift, small gift and a stocking stuffer for each child. Others received large bags filled with specific gifts donated through the Angel Tree program.
Janet Adcock, a seasonal volunteer, carried an oversized stuffed white bear for one mother, who wondered where she could hide it until Christmas. “I love volunteering and helping out during Christmas,” she said, adding that the next few days are sure to be busy but well worth her time to make the holiday special for needy children.
Capt. Dan Wilson, commanding officer for the Grand Junction Salvation Army, said that despite some very generous donations — such as the $1,000 check left in a local red kettle last week — The Salvation Army was still $35,000 short of its goal of $200,000 in monetary donations this year.
“We praise God for what we have so far, but we’re not at our goal yet,” Wilson said.
More than 500 additional families asked for assistance from The Salvation Army this holiday season compared with last year. With monetary and gift donations down, the organization has been hard-pressed to meet demand.
“Hopefully, in the next few days we can say it was all accomplished and we helped everyone we could,” Wilson said.
He said that the Grand Junction Salvation Army was receiving higher donations than many areas of the state, where the under-performing economy has really taken its toll on charitable giving, but it still may not be enough to help everyone in need.
“The people that are coming here today are unemployed and struggling,” he said. “They have to ask themselves, am I humble or do my kids go without?”
Wilson said that giving to the Red Kettle program is not only important to families during the holidays, it also provides funding for many of The Salvation Army’s year-long programs such as rehabilitation, social services and disaster relief funds.
According to Wilson, the local Salvation Army was in the red by $70,000 last year and nearly had to close its Adult Rehabilitation program. He attributed the decline to poor sales in Salvation Army Thrift Stores and the downturn in the economy, which caused donations to decrease.
“That’s why we’re here and trying to meet those goals, so we don’t have to close programs,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that running up to the Christmas season, The Salvation Army had 95 people coming in to ask for food each day, and a total of nearly 500 people per week in need of a good meal.
The Salvation Army will continue to collect toys and monetary donations through Wednesday. Gift tags are still available on the Angel Tree in Mesa Mall for those willing to purchase a last-minute gift. Wilson said gifts for senior citizens were especially needed right now.