The Salvation Army: Beyond the Red Kettles
by Sherrie Norris
But, it's not just about a few coins or bills given in the holiday spirit to offer temporary relief for those experiencing hardships. It's more about the goal of the Salvation Army to bring spiritual light and love to those it serves, and especially at Christmas, to make sure that the real meaning of the season is not forgotten.
Rising From The Slums Of London
The Salvation Army operates in more than 100 countries, having spread quickly from its humble 1865 origin in the slums of London's East End.
Founded by evangelist William Booth, the outreach was first known as Christian mission centers and renamed "The Salvation Army" in 1878.
Missions became known as corps; members transitioned to soldiers, while ministers became officers and Booth himself became general.
The "army" -- outfitted with uniforms, a flag, brass band and martial music -- met outdoors and in tents, theaters and dance halls.
Its unconventional approach to evangelism drew fire from organized religious groups, but its success at meeting unmet social needs eventually won favor from its critics.
In 1880, Booth's mission work made its way to New York City, and by the early 1900s, was represented in 36 countries.
The organization is based on the New Testament concept of "enlistment in the service of God as soldiers who subject themselves to the divine authority and discipline."
Translated into military terminology, the international leader is a general; officers are ranked by seniority and merit. Women hold equal rank with men and if married, a woman holds her husband's rank. Officers must be prepared to transfer to a new post on a short notices according to service requirements.
The Salvation Army's Mission and Vision
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. As a leader in Christian faith-based human services, The Salvation Army is committed to serving the whole person, body, mind and spirit, with integrity and respect, using creative solutions to positively transform lives.
More than 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a broad range of social services that includes providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, supports for the elderly and infirm, shelter and job placement for the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children to flourish. About 82 cents of every dollar raised is used directly to support these services and more where needed most in over 5,000 communities throughout the U.S
The Red Kettle
As a long-held tradition of the Salvation Army, the red kettle campaign is just one of several integral arms of the organization's ministry through which millions of dollars are donated annually to aid needy families, seniors, and the homeless -- in keeping with the spirit of the season.
Because of the ringers, primarily volunteers, who stand for hours in unpredictable elements of nature, every coin and bill dropped into the kettles goes a long way to help meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the less fortunate.
Helping the High Country
The Salvation Army has enjoyed a strong presence in the High Country for several years, said Army Captain Michal J. Chapman, High Country Outpost Director who came to oversee the local services in June 2010.
As a fourth generation "salvationist," and daughter of retired officers, Chapman has been involved with the Army " in one way or another since conception," she said.
Prior to her transfer to Boone, Chapman worked in the organization's accounting department in Washington, DC and attended seminary.
"By placing an officer in the High Country," she said, "I believe that the Salvation Army recognized there was more to be done here."
Last year, Chapman said, more than $41,000 was raised locally through the kettles. "The generosity of the area overall has been amazing," she said. "Not only does the community share by giving financially, but also through donations to our Family Store."
At the same time however, Chapman said this year's red kettle donations are falling behind. (See sidebar.)
Funds raised in the High Country stay here, Chapman said. "In the last fiscal year, we provided services for about 100 area families and 300 individuals. About 550 families were served through the gift-cared program the Avery Project Christmas and Santa's Toy Box."
At the same time, however, requests for assistance continues to rise, Chapman said, especially from those seeking help for the first time.
The Salvation Army currently has two locations in the High Country and serves Watauga and Avery counties; the organization locally operates under the auspices of the Greater Hickory/High Country Command and the leadership of Corp officers, Captains Michael and Christine Harris and Tomeker Williams, with the assistance of an active local advisory council.
In addition to monetary support, donations of family clothing, shoes, accessories, bric-a-brac, household items and furniture are just a few of the giving opportunities available.
Funds raised through the annual red kettle campaign and the re-sell of the donated items at the Foscoe-based Family Store, revert back to the community through a variety of social services including the provision of food, emergency/transitional housing, fuel oil, kerosene, clothing, furniture, medical needs and more.
The Salvation Army's High Country Service Center at 719-A Greenway Road in Boone is open Tue-Fri 9 a.m. to 12 noon at which time requests for services are accepted. To schedule at an appointment, call (828) 262-1005.
The Salvation Army Family Store, located at 7979 Highway 105 South in Foscoe, is open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat. A pick-up service is available for large donated items including furniture.
For more information, call (828) 963-2027.
Tax-deductible donations are vital to the ministry's ongoing success and may be mailed to the Salvation Army's High Country Service Center, 719-A Greenway Road, Boone, NC 28607.