Category Archives: Maplewood Corps

Sharing Your Food Makes Good *Sense


Major Kris Wood of Maplewood Corps Worship and Community Center with two Sense Corp employees delivering food

When Maplewood based Sense Corp had an employee picnic, they had a lot of leftovers. And those leftovers turned into smiles and full bellies when they delivered eggs, bacon, bread, pork and salad to The Salvation Army’s Maplewood Corps Worship and Community Center.

“We’re so grateful for the generosity of Sense Corp,” said Tom Kovach, Director of Corporate Relations at The Salvation Army. “There is a constant need for food and other resources, and this is a perfect example of how businesses can instantly help take care of their communities.”

For more information on how companies can give back, check out opportunities here. 

Passing the Flame

By: Major Kris Wood, Maplewood Salvation Army

I was recently on vacation in Michigan where I was visiting my eldest son and relaxing by a quiet lake with a sandy beach. It was all quite tranquil and serene. A Great Blue Heron called out his daily arrival to the lake and let me know that it was time to hit the water. A Red Tailed Hawk floated high above my head, riding on the invisible forces of the wind; looking for a quick prey to grab into his steel-clawed talons and sweep back to his nest for a morning snack. A pontoon gurgled by as the owner tried to eek one more summer out of his ancient Johnson 15 h.p. motor. He waved, acknowledging my return to the lake that God has given to me as my retreat from stress and reality. I waved in return, the affirmation of a friendship based solely on the time and place. We’ve never spoken, never gripped hands, never communicated in any way over the years except for the passing wave as we both attempted to coax out of life a few moments of escape.

This was my ninth summer upon the lake. In those years very little had changed. I could predict that the college-aged children of the doctor would soon zoom past me on their jet skis, raising high off of each other’s wake. The family at the far side of the lake that kept a beautiful painted horse on their lakeside property, would not be far behind as the kids shouted with glee as Dad pulled them from the motor boat and they clung with white-knuckled fingers to their tubes as he aimed for the wake of the jet skis to send them airborne and to their crashing joy as they fell into the water. (The purpose of tubing is to get thrown from the tube, take serious air and make a horrible crash into the water. Floatation devices keep the tubers at the surface while the boat circles back to gather it’s victims.)

Our tradition has been to build a bonfire near the water’s edge, poke sticks into the red hot coals, tell stories of our family exploits, dream big dreams and burn marshmallows to a golden brown crisp each night that we spent at the lake. This night, the two boys and I were the only ones still awake as the deep night descended upon us. The sky was filled from horizon to horizon with the glorious expanse of stars that make up the universe. One son was tossing a fishing line into the blackness of the lake at night, hoping to catch the big bass that made his home along the beach. The other son was talking about cars and his pursuit of the perfect used car that he could afford. I was adding my wisdom into the mix, pontificating from my seat upon an18-inch stump of wood. It is the earned right of all fathers to take advantage of such times to pass on the knowledge of the ages to his children. We continued the rite of many generations of the family to pass on the stories of old, wax eloquent on the beauties of life, speak somberly of those we had lost, exaggerate the exploits of our past and bond as the men of the family had always bonded – around the fire.

The clan goes back to the lumberjack days of Northern Ontario where my Grandfather cussed in French Canadian with the best of them, used his mighty arms to heave an axe or pull on a saw. The lumberjacks ended each day sitting around the fire, telling stories that were mostly true, and dreaming of moving to the big city, having a house of their own and raising their families in the wealth of their nearest neighbors, the citizens of the United States of America. Grandpa never told the stories that were shared around those fires in the great north, censoring most of the tales from our virgin ears as little children. However, great truths were past down and the tradition has carried forward in the family around the country. Sitting around a campfire, eating food, sharing life, and distilling the family wisdom is a way of life for all of the family members; whether in Michigan, Utah or along the banks of the Yellowstone River in Wyoming. It is the way we continue the oral history of the family – a tradition that has been passed on to many generations.

Now, in the midst of telling the most profound experience of my life with unidentified flying objects and the Northern Lights, a deep rumble moved from the southwest and then cracked loudly above our heads. At first, I considered it the warning of a coming storm. Yet, the sky was still clear and filled with the stars, not a hint of any oncoming storm could be seen as far as the western horizon would allow. One quick look on the smart phone confirmed that no storms were headed our way. One of the boys said, “Is it a storm coming, Dad?” I affirmed that the skies were clear. After a moment of contemplation the other son said, “Must be a military jet.” We agreed in silence. I continued my story.

Twenty minutes or so later, my story having ended and discarded as so much late night gibberish; my son talking of having a house on a lake and fishing every day the rest of his life, the rumble again shook the sky. This time it was more defined, sharper, and obviously not a military jet. It most closely resembled the sounds I had experienced twenty years prior as aftershocks of the Northridge, California earthquake shook Los Angeles and the Hollywood area. The rumbles would begin in the distance and then move closer as the sound became louder, soon to be followed by the waves of rock solid earth moving beneath us as we held on for dear life and prayed that this rumble was not the first sound of “the big one” that would cause California to slide off the continental U.S. and into the Pacific ocean. Yet, this night on the lake in Michigan, no waves of earthquake followed. I put my hands palm down against the ground at beneath me and felt no tremor, no shake, no slight wiggle in the terra firma.

“What is that?” the youngest son asked, fear obvious in his voice. “Not a military jet,” the eldest son replied. He arose to his feet and began to pace along the sand, looking into the darkness of the southwest sky. I pondered what kind of celestial or manmade thing could make such booming occur. It was too loud for fireworks – the resounding lower frequencies moved the organs in my stomach in a way fireworks have never accomplished. Jets breaking the sound barrier never shook the sky with such ferocity. Thunder never moved in waves from the distance to explode over your head and continue on to the opposite horizon. It was a surreal, disturbing experience. Yet, given our desire to find that stated place of bliss and escape, we were quick to fall back into our slowly spoken conversations and to continue on the long family tradition. The stories lasted late into the night with never another interruption by the unknown source of the boom.

Three days removed from the lake and deeply immersed in the rat race of work once again, I found a news story that about fifty miles south of where we had been at the lake an entire region of Michigan was jolted by “unknown” disturbances in the air. One man’s house had structural damage and two trees were literally torn in half at the same elevation. Several other neighbors reported house damage as well. The United States Geological Service reports NO seismic activity in the state of Michigan or the region. The United States Air Force reports no activity over south western Michigan. The F.A.A. reports no low flying airplanes and no crashed or missing airplanes in the entire region.

One can make a lot of these kinds of things if one allows their imagination to go wild. It would be easy to imagine all kinds of sci-fi type options as answers to the dilemma of the booms of southwestern Michigan on those days of vacation. However, it solidified the memory of that time together – the sharing of the past, the enjoying of the present and the guaranteed retelling of this story for generations to come. If my sons hold true to the family tradition they will interject their own personal opinions about the noises that filled that night and make the story that much more incredible by adding their own unique perspectives and memories of that night to make it the “incredible night when we heard the strange booms over Michigan.” For me, it is a great and warming memory when a father shares a special time with his sons, passes wisdom, postulates about things he knows little of, and in that moment solidifies the family bond that had been passed down to him from the not so silent generations of the past.

Salvation Army seeks vendors, donations for charity garage sale

Proceeds to benefit Salvation Army World Services

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Communications & Content Specialist, Midland Division

St. Louis – The Salvation Army’s Maplewood community center, located at 7702 Rannels Avenue in Maplewood is hosting a fundraiser garage sale on October 1, 2011 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The garage sale will be held in conjunction with the Brentwood/Richmond Heights/Maplewood Tri-City garage sale to be held the same day.

The Salvation Army will offer new merchandise and gift cards donated by area businesses to be sold at a fraction of their retail value. Additional donations are being accepted through the date of the event.

 Local vendors and residents may secure indoor vendor space to sell merchandise. Vendor space is available at $15 for one table and two chairs. Admission to the event is free. Concessions will be available during the event.

 All proceeds will go to benefit The Salvation Army’s World Services, which provides food, shelter, disaster relief, medicine and hope to the world’s suffering.

 Those interested in donating or securing vendor space may contact the Maplewood community center directly at (314) 781-5434.

 The Salvation Army, an international organization, has been supporting those in need without discrimination for 130 years in the St. Louis region. Nearly 350,000 people throughout Missouri and Southern Illinois 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 spent is used to carry out those services throughout the region. For more information, go to

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The Master Musician

 By: Major Kris L. Wood, Maplewood Worship & Community Center

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I was born a musician.  It could not be helped, actually.  My father was a young boy when he and his brother followed the Flint Citadel Band of The Salvation Army as they marched down the street.  They followed the band to the Salvation Army building and there heard of God’s love for them.  They rushed home and pulled their parents and sister to the Salvation Army “hall” where the preacher gave an inspiring message that led my father and the rest of his family to accept Jesus Christ into their lives.  Later a woman approached my father and asked him if he liked the band.  “Yes!” he responded with great excitement.  “You can learn to play a horn like that too,” she offered, “We have a beginner’s class just for you. Would you like to play a horn of your own?”I will never know who that woman was nor did she have any idea what her invitation would do to change the lives of so many people.  My father became a soloist on his cornet at a young age.  He played as the featured soloist all over the Mid-West and even in Ontario, Canada.  He played on a national radio broadcast and won the top prize.  His name was soon well known as a young musical genius with perfect pitch.  At the age of nineteen he became one of the youngest bandmasters in the Salvation Army world and the youngest to ever hold the baton of the famed Flint Citadel Band of The Salvation Army.  He went on to study music education and performance at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.  After five years he graduated with a Masters Degree in Music Education.  He received many offers from around the country to take positions in symphonies and at universities but he felt called to go back to his home and continue the music that had given him his start; The Salvation Army.  However, there were no paying positions with The Salvation Army, so he had to find work in order to support his family and follow his passion for ministering through music and The Salvation Army.

For thirty five years he was an elementary school music teacher in the Ferndale, Michigan school district. He was known by everyone as Mr. Wood.  He taught countless thousands the joy of music through their instruments.  He tutored students in our basement studio and he mentored many great musicians through their education and on into their professional careers.  To name those students would be a waste of time; literally.  There are just too many to begin to list.

However, growing up in a home filled with music was a wonderful gift to me and my sisters.  We never knew a day without singing, humming, whistling, brass instruments practicing or recordings playing out through the state of the art stereo system that our father always maintained to perform at it’s highest level.  The emotional comfort and the strength and confidence that came from full immersion into music cannot be measured, but my sisters and I can testify to the powerful impact music has had on our lives.  Music became a tool that my father used to connect with me when I was going through a difficult time in my life.

He asked me one day to accompany him to the stereo shop where he was going to be looking for a new set of high end speakers.  I went along because the thought of high end speakers made me think of how my own musical favorites would sound.  I could only dream of how the band Chicago would sound blasting at maximum decibels out of our basement sound room.  I could only drool at the thought of the exquisitely piercing blasts of Maynard Ferguson’s trumpet filling my house.  I had to go with my father, so I went along; even though I was in a time of life when I felt that he was the dumbest man alive and had no idea what I wanted, needed or cared about.  He knew more than I could ever know.  It was in that elite sound room in a small store on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan that my father reached out and connected with me in a way that would change my life.  My father, unbeknownst to me, had grabbed my cassette of favorite music and slipped it into his pocket.  Then, sitting like a Prince at the side of my father, the King, the music began to play out of a sound system that was valued at over $10,000!  
Best of all, it was my music, not my Dad’s Salvation Army Brass Band music.  My Dad was testing new speakers with my music!  I could not believe it.  He knew something after all.  He smiled at me when he told the man to turn it up a bit louder and to boost the bass.  Ah, sweet rapture!  Maynard was wailing, Chicago was harmonizing and even Stevie Wonder’s voice resonated in a way I had never heard it before.  Then, pushing the limits of any adult’s endurance, I fast forwarded the cassette to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  My Dad closed his eyes and absorbed my music as if it were Beethoven, Bach or Condon.  The voices twisted around my head in a musical gyroscope of sounds mixed with special affects and incredible musical mixing.  My Dad was smiling, I was smiling and the sales man was smiling.  ( He was thinking that he was going to sell a ten thousand dollar system.  It did not happen.)  That day, I understood that my Dad understood music.  He understood it, appreciated it and loved it; even if it was my chosen music and not his.  Never did my Dad ever tell me to turn my music off in the house.  It was music and it was good.  I sit here today thinking about the tolerance and open mind that he had to possess in order to listen to all the immature, misguided and really horrible music that crossed through my years and played over the stereo system he had purchased.  Yet, my Dad never criticized; only listened.  In those hours of sharing music together in our basement sound room my Dad and I forged a deep and lasting relationship.  I learned that we did not have to agree, we did not have to share the same tastes or the same ideas, we did not even have to understand the other but we did have to respect each other and appreciate the passion that the other held.  Those ideas transferred from music and impacted every aspect of our lives.
Today, my Dad is 81 years old.  His heart and mind are constantly filled with music.  He hums tunes, fingers the complicated movements of trumpet solos with his right hand, conducts silent symphonies and sings out the songs of his life.  Each day he plays his cornet, sometimes for hours.  He listens to music, judges movies not on their screen play but on their musical score, writes arrangements for small ensembles, and lives a life that is accompanied by a glorious musical score.  He hung up his baton this past year; after conducting for 62 years. (I must confess that I was upset that this happened, not wanting to let go of the past and all that.)  Yet, I know that all around the world people are singing songs, playing instruments and living life with the joy of music in their hearts, because of my Dad.
Recently, I have reconnected with an old friend.  We have reminisced about many old times together.  Last week we remembered a special project my Dad started in the Ferndale School District called, Summer Band.  It was a music program that families could pay a small fee and enlist their children into so that they could keep honing their musical skills over the summer.  We played concerts in the parks of Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Oak Park.  Parents brought picnics, put out their blankets, children played on swings sets, and the sound of music echoed across the evenings of a simpler life and time.  That is where my friend and I first met.  He played trombone and I was playing tuba that summer.  Who would have known that forty years later our love of music and our passion for God would have brought us back together?  We look back to those days as the great days of our lives.  The conductor of those great days?  My Dad.  How fitting indeed.  I wonder if God smiles upon that woman who asked the simple question so long ago, “Do you want to play a horn of your own?”, and says, “You did a great thing that day.”  I wonder if she can see the impact of her encouragement, the lives that were turned in the right direction through music, the souls that walk the streets of God’s glory because she offered a cornet to a poor little boy.  I hope and pray that God has granted her that blessing.  It is because of her that I am who I am today.  It is because of her that the world is a better place.  It is because she cared that my Dad has spent his life as the Master Musician.
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