The Salvation Army at Christmas: A true servant’s heart shines bright

Salvation Army donation kettles and bell ringer.( Torin Halsey/ AP)

This past Sunday night I was watching the NFL football match between the and the visiting . Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, after scoring a touchdown, jumped into an oversized Salvation Army red kettle on national television. Scrooge-like NFL rules gave Dallas a penalty, but his gesture demonstrated a great message to the millions who appreciate the Salvation Army and all it stands for.

You hear the bell ringing and you look and assure the Salvation Armys famous red kettle and you know its getting close to . First started in 1891 in San Francisco, the Red Kettle Christmas Campaign is the Salvation Armys most important and most visible fundraising program to help the needy and hungry in the name of Christ at Christmas and throughout the year. Its also a great way for individuals and groups to volunteer and get involved to spread the Christmas spirit.

Another familiar Salvation Army program is its Angel Tree Program, which specifically provides clothes and toys for children at Christmas. Other those programmes and services available throughout the year include the Transitional Housing Program, help to the homeless, Salvation Army Family Stores, Adult Rehabilitation Centers, and Camp Happy Land for disadvantaged youth.

The Salvation Army has also been unsung heroes on the front lines of countless disasters over the years. This year the Salvation Army was on the ground in Haiti for Hurricane Matthew relief, food, water and shelter to thousands. They were also on the ground in North Carolina and South Carolina, multiple disaster response divisions to serve those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Earlier this year in August, they were on the ground in Southeast Louisiana relief to those affected by severe flooding in 25 parishes. And more recently, they were on the ground in East Tennessee to provide basic needs, and emotional and spiritual care to wildfire survivors.

When the cyclones of life come and someone has hit rock bottom and feels like they have no hope, the Salvation Army is there. It “wasnt just” the person in needs physical health they care about. The Salvation Army also cares about their spiritual health. This year, many American families are hurting at Christmas.

Fortunately, this week thousands of these families in need are proving up at Salvation Army distribution centers all across the United States to receive Christmas gifts for their children and food baskets for their families.

William Booth, the Methodist minister and founder of the Salvation Army, viewed church as a sinners hospital. While elites of London seemed down on him in the 1860 s, Booth would reach out to alcoholics, prostitutes and drug addict, and take them to church. His mission expanded to help out those who are less fortunate and truly in need of lifes basic necessities. Over 150 year later, the Salvation Army is still fulfilling that vision.

The actual amount of real help provided to Americans in need by the Salvation Army is staggering. In fact, the Salvation Army assistances more than 33 million Americans throughout the year and over 6 million of those during the course of its Christmas season alone. To get this done, the Salvation Army expends over$ 3BN every year helping people, with over 82 pennies of every dollar spent going to program services. As the late Peter Drucker told, No one even arrives close to it in respect to lucidity of mission, ability to innovate, measurable results, dedication and putting fund to maximum employ. Indeed, it is the role model for faith based and charitable organizations.

Salvation Army volunteers will tell you that nothing dedicates them greater elation than to find past recipients of the Salvation Armys assistance return to now assist others in need. Several years ago, while bell ringing with my kids outside of Washington , D.C ., a mommy with two children came up to the red kettle and made a donation.

She then looked at me and told, A couple of years ago, I lost my job and we didnt have hot and it was winter. The Salvation Army helped me and my children. I am glad that I can now assist somebody else.

Then theres a tale of a mom and daughter, who several years ago were helped by the Salvation Armys Angel Tree Program, subsequently returning and gifts and garment for twelve families at Christmas. These narratives are endless. This is something that no federal government program can accomplish.

One thing Ive always liked most about the Salvation Army is its humility and non-judgmental nature. Rather than wearing religion on their sleeve, they just focus on doing the Lords work.

In this day and age, there are many who only talk the talk. It is genuinely uplifting to see an organization like the Salvation Army that actually strolls the walk and helps show the world the Light that shone in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago is just as bright today as it was then.

Van D. Hipp, Jr. is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army. He is the author of the freshly released volume, ” The New Terrorism: How to Oppose It and Defeat It . ” All of the author’s proceeds go to the National Guard Educational Foundation to fund scholarships for children of fallen Guardsmen. Follow him on Twitter @VanHipp.

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