More Than 60 Area Families in This Year’s Adopt-A-Family Program Still Need Donors

Christmas should be a joyous time of year for all of us. Every child should have the opportunity to experience the magic and thrill of the season. Unfortunately, for many, Christmas is not a time of celebration, but a time of added stress and financial challenge. The Salvation Army Adopt-A-Family program works to help some of the most disadvantaged families in our area enjoy the blessings of Christmastime.

This year, we received a larger number of family applications due in part to the late-season tornadoes that devastated a number of communities in our region. The need this year is great – more than 60 families remain on our available “adopt” list. Though Christmas Day is fast approaching, there is still time to help provide holiday meals and gifts to these families who would otherwise go without.

When you choose to become a sponsor of a family through the Adopt-A-Family program, you will be matched with a family whose needs meet your capacity to give. You will receive a summary about your family and the situation with which they are faced. Your summary will include the genders, ages and sizes of each family member and a list of needed or requested items, such as food, toys and clothing. You can choose to adopt a small or large family, or even multiple families.

This is a last-minute push for assistance. Gifts and food items for adopted families will need to be received at the Salvation Army Headquarters by the end of this week.

To adopt a family – or families – or more information on how you can help, please call 314-646-3000 and ask for our Adopt a Family coordinator. You can also offer your help by emailing adoptafamily@usc.salvationarmy.org.

The Adopt-A-Family program is a rewarding way to come together with members of your own family, workplace, church group or neighborhood to give back to those less fortunate and truly celebrate the meaning of the Christmas holiday.

As you bask in the warm glow of your own family Christmas tree and give thanks for the blessings in your life, please remember those less fortunate.

On behalf of the families we serve, thank you and have a blessed holiday.

9 things to look forward to before Christmas

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It’s our favorite time of year! The time when we celebrate the merriest of seasons while working to ensure a safety net and a hand up for our friends and neighbors who have fallen on tough times. So in the next few weeks, here are the things we are celebrating, and we hope you will too!

[Update 12/5/13] The ending time for Cans Film Festival was misstated as 6pm when it ends at 5pm. Our apologies for the confusion!

1. Giving Tuesday – December 3

This new, annual tradition is celebrated by charities all around the globe, and we would be honored to receive your support. Without your help, children all over Missouri and southern Illinois would not have Christmas and feel the love and security that all children deserve to feel. Make a donation December 3, and feel great that you have made a difference.

2. Cans Film Festival – December 7 from 9am – 5pm

Let’s check off the movies we want to see, shall we? The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Frozen. 12 Years a Slave. Last Vegas. The Book Thief. Or, if it’s your thing, Bad Grandpa. And you can see them for the great price of 5 CANNED GOODS at all Wehrenberg Theaters. That’s right. What would normally cost you $10-15 depending on the theater, will cost you the very reasonable price of 5 cans per person at all Wehrenberg locations. The goal is to raise 500,000 cans for families in need, so bring the family and enjoy the show.

3. Rams Ring Bells with Fox 2/KPLR 11 – December 10

The St. Louis Rams and Emerson have a challenge for everyone: as the Fox 2/KPLR 11 personalities and our favorite Rams players ring the bell at the Des Peres Schnucks, the goal is to raise $25,000. That includes a dollar for dollar match up to $10,000 thanks to Emerson. Shake some hands, snap a picture, and give hope to people in our community. Win-win-win.

4. Walmart Fill the Truck – December 13 4pm – 8pm, December 14 8am – 5pm

While you’re out shopping for the loved ones in your life, drop off an unwrapped toy in marked bins at Walmarts throughout the region, and we will distribute that toy to kids in need in partnership with Toys for Tots.

5. KCS Holiday Express – December 14 1:30pm – 7:30pm

After a few years of passing by St. Louis, the Kansas City Southern Holiday Express is BACK! As KCS generously donates gift cards to us from their employees to purchase toys and coats for kids in need, Union Station and KCS will host a Winter Wonderland including photos with Santa, face painting, balloon artists, interactive sports inflatables, cookies, hot chocolate, holiday music and movies! This is entirely free for all, so come down and get the kids rallied for Christmas!

6. Cardinals ring bells – December 17

Come grab a picture and hang out with your St. Louis Cardinals and drop some money in the kettle in the process! Come out to the Richmond Heights Schnucks from 10am – 6pm to hang with our NLCS champions.

7. Win a car from Bommarito Auto Group & Fox 2/KPLR 11 – Now until December 29

Drop some virtual change in your favorite personality’s kettle, and get a chance to win a brand new Mazda 3 courtesy of Bommarito Auto Group. $10 will get you one entry, and the number of entries are unlimited. Ever gotten a new car for $10? Now’s your chance. And all money goes to support The Salvation Army’s efforts to help people all across Missouri and southern Illinois.

8. Trans Siberian Orchestra – December 23

Our favorite Christmas group is back, and they are giving us $.25 of every ticket sold! So know that when you buy your tickets, they are going to a great cause!

9. Test drive a Fiat – now until December 31

Fiats are wonderful cars, and Lou Fusz is donating $25 for every car test driven at their Fiat Illinois and Creve Coeur locations as an extra incentive to fall in love with your new wheels!

Tell us which of these you are most looking forward to–and we’re excited to see you!

 

How does this make you feel?

I posed a question on our Facebook page about seeing the bell-ringers this time of year. There are several feelings that come about when you talk about Salvation Army bell-ringers–I’ve heard people say “Oh great, here they are again…” “STOP RINGING, that is so annoying” “Aww it makes me feel like Christmas is here!”… and on, and on. So I thought I would get some unedited Facebook commentary about how our dedicated volunteer army of fundraisers is being perceived. One comment summed it all up:

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For the 350,000 people we serve each year, that bell and kettle means something special. It means a warm meal, and a safe place; it means the lights stay on, Christmas for your kids is not forgotten, and the opportunity to go to camp in the summertime. It means the chance to grow up healthy, to shed old habits, and to receive the help to build a path to a better future.

Most people don’t come to The Salvation Army when their lives are in perfect order. And just like you need to be prepared for a crisis BEFORE it happens, we prepare 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people who need some extra help.

The Tree of Lights campaign is in full swing; we are raising the needed dollars it takes to keep the doors open year ’round and all of the money stays local. So whether you can ring the bell proudly, host your own (virtual) kettle, or drop some change in to support our programs, you are helping us keep the mission going.

Because we want to be there for you, too, should you ever find yourself on our doorstep. And we will welcome you–every single one of you–with open arms.

6 reasons why ringing the bell is the best

Ever since Captain Joseph McFee set up a crab pot and rang a bell in San Francisco in 1891 to raise money for the hungry, bell ringing has been a Christmas tradition all over the country.

But what makes bell ringing REALLY special (other than the money it raises to support the community) are the amazing volunteers who spice things up every day during Christmas at the kettle. Our favorites:

1. Sleeves are optional! (But clothing is required)

Roswell’s Salvation Army is working to break the record for longest continuous kettle bell ringing.Starting on December 11, Ryan Gass plans to ring a bell for 65 hours, breaking last year’s record of 60 hours and 10 minutes.
Source: NY Daily News

2. Choreographed dances are not only awesome, they are encouraged.

3. You can invite birds to join you Disney style… or you can just make the bird calls yourself.

4. You get to see different methods of donating.

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Source: http://chicquero.files.wordpress.com/

5. You and your friends can surprise EVERYONE with music.

6. Even your three year old can bell ring :)

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The majority of our funds collected throughout the year are collected by dedicated volunteers just like you to come and ring our bell. Grab some friends, spread some cheer, and be a part of the more than 4,000 volunteers we need this season to continue our efforts every day in this community. BONUS: every dollar collected here stays LOCAL. Like we said… bell ringing is the best (and so are you!) Please come and volunteer today to fill service hours, school requirements and more. And even become a virtual bell ringer and do some fundraising for your friends.

From the bottom of our hearts as we enter this Christmas season, thank you!

…for everything else, there’s MasterCard.

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Major Paul Ferguson at our O’Fallon Corps Community Center and shelter knows what’s important.

He became an officer in The Salvation Army because he saw the need that so many people face when it comes to food, clothing, shelter, feeling lost in their faith, or just needing someone to care. But when you’re tending to the needs of so many others, sometimes it’s not possible to tend to the very needs that your home and workplace requires.

“We have limited staff hours and we’re focusing on meeting the needs of the people who walk through our door,” Major Ferguson said. “So when we see the bushes overgrown or broken picnic tables or paint chipping, we don’t have the manpower to do it.”

Enter MasterCard.

With a small army of over 65 volunteers, MasterCard’s LFI division in O’Fallon, Missouri, came out to sort cans, paint, trim bushes and make repairs that have long been needed at this site. This was part of a MasterCard-wide day of service to local organizations that needed volunteers, and The Salvation Army was thrilled to be the recipient of these services for the second time in the past few years.

“Because of their hard work and dedication, they are literally saving us tens of thousands of dollars,” Major Ferguson said. “These repairs give our clients dignity knowing that their space is well taken care of before they go on to the next steps in their lives.”

So here we go with our imitation of MasterCard’s famous marketing campaign:

Paint: $350

Mulch: $650

Chainsaws: $1,000

Taking a day to change the lives of hundreds of people by improving the place where they come to find hope: PRICELESS.

Thank you, MasterCard! To learn about other volunteer opportunities (especially to ring bells… Christmas is coming!) head on over here. We would love to have you help come change lives.

Christmas assistance is here!

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Christmas assistance applications are here! Head to our website to find out where you can sign up and how to apply if you and your family need some extra support this Christmas.

We’re #1!

Thank you to the Riverfront Times for voting a Salvation Army ARC thrift store as the top in St. Louis! To read more about RFT’s Best of St. Louis or to see the recognition, visit their website.

best thrift store rft

Semi-pro football team lends helping hands

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Members of the St. Louis Spirit football team recently traded the gridiron for a swatch of tilled earth to help The Salvation Army’s Family Haven develop a community garden.

The minor league football team – part of the Great Midwest Football League – is no stranger to volunteering.

“St. Louis Spirit has always had a special interest in reaching out to charitable organizations,” said head coach and owner Damon Cannon. “But since we’ve focused our efforts on The Salvation Army, I think we’ve been able to do some real good in the community.”

In the past, the team has conducted several food drives to benefit Salvation Army food pantries; moved furniture and set up resident rooms at the Family Haven shelter; conducted fundraisers; and collected much-needed personal care items at their football games. Most recently, they joined children from the shelter to build a community garden, which will eventually allow the residents to grow and eat their own food.

“It’s not just about providing a food source,” Cannon said. “Most of our children in urban St. Louis have never planted a garden or even been around one. They’ll now have the chance to learn how things grow, the work that goes into it, and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It’s a great life lesson.”

For quarterback Eric Bailey, volunteering should be a priority for everyone.

“We think that we don’t have time, that the little time we do have wouldn’t make an impact, but that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” Bailey said. “Reading one book to a child, move some heavy furniture, just sitting and listening to someone talk, or building a garden; it all makes an impact.”

According to Cannon, working with The Salvation Army was a perfect fit.

“Our football players are playing semi-pro because they missed the opportunity to advance their careers,” he said. “Maybe they didn’t get the test scores or scholarship they need. For them, we’re the second chance for those guys. We give them a place to realize their dreams and stay off the streets.

“For whatever reason, they slipped up, and there are so many people in St. Louis who need a second chance, too. The Salvation Army is there to ensure they get it.”

To see The Salvation Army’s perspective on the importance of food insecurity, take a look at what our Divisional Commander has to say in a St. Louis American Op-Ed.

National Recovery Month: Trevor’s Story

In honor of National Recovery Month, we invited Major Kendall Mathews (known to St. Louis as Major KK) of our Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) to share a story of one person who has come through the ARC program. The name has been changed to protect the subject’s identity.

You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; The river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, For so You have prepared it.
-Psalms 65:9

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Trevor grew up in Kansas City, Mo., in an upper-middle- class area.

His mother was married to a dentist, he lived in a good neighborhood and had several friends. But as the years went by his mother and stepfather decided to get a divorce, and in a split second, he went from upper-class circumstances to living in public housing with his grandmother. He had a tough time adjusting to his new environment. He was constantly reminded by the children in the neighborhood that he was different. Trevor wanted a better life for himself and decided to join the U.S. Navy. It was hard for him to leave his family, but a change was needed in his life. Trevor excelled in the Navy; he was doing things naturally that people were trained for weeks to do. He worked his way from a Sailor to Aviation Chief, served in the Navy for 20 years, and retired. Even though he was living his dreams, he was still presented with several obstacles in his life. The Navy caused him to be away from his wife and children for months at a time. He started to feel lonely and ended up giving into his temptations. He had no idea that his wife was feeling the same way and their marriage ended up suffering from their choices to be unfaithful. And even though he was qualified, he still struggled with being the only African-American in a leadership position in the Navy and with accepting recognition for his hard work.

Trevor always drank socially and used marijuana on occasion, and it never seemed to cause him any problems. He started using crack cocaine in his late 30’s and used it on and off for 25 years. He had a method to his madness: he used alcohol because it allowed him to be more social, marijuana because it enhanced his concentration, and crack because it allowed him to be more sexual. He attempted to live a sober lifestyle a few times during his addiction. He relapsed after being clean for four years. He still thought that he had control over his addiction until the Navy gave him an ultimatum. In order for him to receive his retirement benefits, he would have to check himself into a rehabilitation program. Another one of Trevor’s problems was being a people-pleaser, and in all of his pleasing he neglected himself, destroyed his marriages and the relationships with his children, and almost lost his retirement. His addiction controlled his life for more than 25 years.

Today, the most important thing is his life is the relationship he has with God. He has been sober since 1995 and has since stopped leaning on his own understanding and realized that the Lord is his provider. Trevor has committed his life to God and to living a Christian lifestyle. He is a Soldier of The Salvation Army and a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

The origin of the word “provide” is in the Latin providere, meaning “look forward, prepare, supply, act with foresight.” To be a provider, one has to be able to look ahead and anticipate the needs of those for whom one is providing. Part of being a good provider is having the wisdom to discern the best way in which to accommodate those needs.

The ministry of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center is to Recycle goods, Reclaim lives, and Rebuild families through our work therapy program and a spiritual walk with Jesus Christ. The ability to dream of a better life, a better community and a better world is common to us all. Men who suffer from substance abuse need this better life in order to give back to our society in a sober and spiritual way. It is a long road to their recovery and as is true in this story, all things are possible through Christ and caring community. Our ARC becomes their safety net where we catch the drug-addicted man, then support in living a transformed life, free from the bondage of sin and shame.

Our program is designed to minister to the whole person, rather than just a specific problem. The majority of men who come to our center for assistance are having problems in many areas of their lives: social, medical, spiritual, personal, and employment. We make every effort to cover these tenants to bring about a total recovery with a positive, after-care support plan tailored for each individual. The goal is re-entry back into the community in a positive manner with sufficient support for maintenance of sobriety and growth in lifestyle.

“For we are God’s Workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus, that we may do those good works which God predestined for us, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

How will you leave your mark?

How will you leave your mark?

We’re looking for the best and brightest of our city’s young professionals to join our Young Friends Board! Come out to Plush October 10th for free appetizers, networking, and to learn how you can leave your mark on this city with the world’s most trusted charity. 

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