Category Archives: O’Fallon

…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.

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Thank you, #STL

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To all of the people that took our need this past Labor Day weekend and shared it, told their friends, and took action….

Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts.

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” -Matthew 14:16 NIV

Where and how you can drop off food donations

A food barrel all filled up at the Compton & Olive BP

A food barrel all filled up at the Compton & Olive BP

We are thrilled with the response we have received from our friends in this community! I had an opportunity to be at our O’Fallon food pantry this morning and the number of grateful people I saw at the pantry for assistance alongside the donors stopping by with this priceless food was extremely moving.

But we have a great distance to go before we can ensure that all those who need food can get it. Here’s where you can go to drop off dry goods and canned items for O’Fallon and our other pantries in need:

  • The O’Fallon Corps Community Center: Accepting donations 8 a.m. -7 p.m. every day. If there are donations you would like to deliver after-hours, please contact the corps directly at 636-240-4969 and the staff will do their best to accommodate.
  • Any of our other food pantries in the region.  Call ahead to ensure that they will be open to accept your donation.
  • Mobil Gas Station 1051 Hampton Ave: This is located just south of I-64/40 on Hampton Avenue on the west side of the street. Collections at all gas stations listed will continue through Labor Day weekend.
  • BP Amoco Gas Station 1104 Hampton Ave: This is located just south of 1-64/40 on Hampton Avenue on the east side of the street.
  • BPAmoco Gas Station 3140 Olive Street: Located on the corner of Compton Avenue and Olive Street in Midtown.
  • Museum of Transportation: TODAY AND FRIDAY ONLY–bring in non-perishable food items, and receive one free admission per group/family to the museum. They are located at 3015 Barrett Station Rd. Hours are 9 a.m.  – 4 p.m.

 

Can’t drop off food but still want to help? Make a monetary donation to support our pantries.

We are hearing of more places and companies that are accepting food on our behalf, so if you or your business would like to be added to this list, please email me at dana_biermann@usc.salvationarmy.org and we would be delighted to add you here.

Acts 24:3 “In every way and everywhere we accept this with all gratitude.” Thank you, friends.

This is what going hungry looks like–and we need your help

This is big, and this is serious.

What if your home pantry looked like this... and there was nowhere else to go?

What if your home pantry looked like this… and there was nowhere else to go?

Our O’Fallon Corps Community Center in Missouri sent us this picture. They feed 935 families per month–that’s over 400% increase over the last two years. But in June, all was well: they got 20,000 Ibs of food donated. And for those families who had nowhere else to turn, that was a good thing.

This month, they got 3,900 Ibs of food and that’s it. Now O’Fallon, and many other Salvation Army corps community centers in the St. Louis region, are at risk of turning those families away.

Whether it is a donation of food or of dollars, this is a critical need that we need your help to fill. We need your help right now to feed your neighbors throughout the region. We’re sending out an SOS: please Stock Our Shelves!

MOST NEEDED ITEMS: dry goods (pasta, rice, cereal, etc), canned meat and protein items.

If you would like to help or have questions, please email dana_biermann@usc.salvationarmy.org.

The perfect recipe for comfort

 

This article is written by Ashley Kuenstler, Content Specialist for The Salvation Army Midland Division.

Ayla

When you step foot inside the O’Fallon Worship and Community Center, the first thing you will notice is the smell.

If you allow your nose to guide you, you’ll weave your way through tiled hallways until you find the source. And on this particular day, it was roasted chicken, homemade mashed potatoes, and freshly baked bread.

“It’s almost intoxicating,” said O’Fallon Shelter Manager Peggy Sherwin. “It’s a host of smells that take me back to when I was a kid in the South, playing on the sidewalk and smelling the chicken from inside my grandmother’s house.”

These are the types of reactions Ayla Rashad wAyla orks every day to provide to the families of the O’Fallon shelter. Through some kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, and a variety of ingredients, Rashad has been serving up comfort to shelter residents for five years.

“Her food gives a sense of comfortability, security, and warmth that are so important to our shelter families,” said Sherwin. “Those aromas remind them of home and of better times; a perfect environment to get their lives back on track.”

Rashad creates home-cooked meals twice a day for approximately 30 people. Each meal consists of a meat, vegetable, starch, bread, and dessert – all from scratch. And on Fridays, she works double-time and prepares meals for the entire weekend. If you ask her to talk about this seemingly stressful job, she will illuminate the room.

“This isn’t a job, it’s me doing what I love every day of my life,” said Rashad. “Cooking is just what I’m meant to do; it’s my purpose. The only part that makes it a chore is the dishes.”

Rashad is passionate for not just her food – but the shelter residents as well. She enjoys getting creative in the kitchen to keep residents on their toes and ensure they enjoy every meal.

“One time a family of six was staying in the shelter and they were all vegetarian,” she said. “I had never cooked with tofu before, so I went into my kitchen and didn’t come out until I could cook meals they could eat, too. I think they were shocked to be in a shelter and have someone cater to them.”

Employees and clients alike agree that Rashad is the facility’s cornerstone, bringing people together around a dinner table for fellowship on a daily basis. When it comes to her cooking, there are only two things she won’t do: make boxed meals or use a microwave.

“I just can’t use it,” she said with a laugh. “I tried cooking minute rice in the microwave before, and it came out inedible. I couldn’t do it right. You want some rice? Give me a pot and some boiling water and I’ll make you some rice.”

During her tenure with the shelter, Rashad said her role was put into perspective when a neighbor from her childhood was a resident there.

“When I saw her in the shelter, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “I mean, I knew this girl growing up; I knew her entire family. And I realized I could help her. I could help take care of her with the food I was making.”

“She loves engaging with the residents and genuinely cares about they want and need,” Sherwin continued. “You will find so much when you visit her kitchen: amazing food, plenty of laughs, fellowship, and that feeling of comfort; you’ll just never find any leftovers.”

To learn about how you can help cook at our Worship and Community Centers, please visit our Volunteer page. 

Camper Stands Out From Peers at Kids Camp

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Enthusiastic and definitely not shy, Robin talks a mile a minute when describing her adventures at Camp Mihaska Kids Camp. She is a member at The Salvation Army O’Fallon Corps, and it was here where she first learned of Camp Mihaska.

The captains that were serving when her family became members at the O’Fallon Community Center introduced Robin’s family to Camp Mihaska, and Robin hasn’t looked back since. Having attended a Music Camp and other Kids Camps in the past, Camp Mihaska’s wonders are very familiar to this passionate camper.

Robin seemed to be different from the other campers. When her cabin group stood in a line or huddled in a group, Robin always managed to stand out from her peers.

It might have been her knowledge of the camp, and her ability to communicate this knowledge to her fellow campers.

Not only could she share her understanding, but she also spoke about camp in a way that seemed to be wiser beyond her years. It was as if being at camp in the past had made her somewhat of an expert on Camp Mihaska and how to behave at Kids Camp.

Robin seemed to know everything about this camp. She was often seen helping the girls in her cabin if they had questions about that night’s festivities. She knew to follow her counselor, and she knew the difference between the proper time to participate and the proper time to listen. She followed her counselor’s orders to put on bug spray, sunscreen and clean up after herself. She is a careful camper, but she is not afraid to have fun.

This lively camper also was striking because of her immense enthusiasm for camp life. One could pick Robin out of the entire camp’s crowd because of her loud cheering or loud voice asking to participate in an activity.

As evidence to her enthusiasm, she had four beads on her necklace by the second day of camp, and was determined to gain more. These beads meant that Robin had completed more tasks than other campers by the second day.

Robin was always ready to move to the next activity, as she is a spry young camper prepared to tackle the next adventure Camp Mihaska could throw her way.

Robin volunteered for activities, to be a helper for a camp staff member and to tell a story about camp. At one of the campfire ceremonies when the leader of the games asked for volunteers, Robin was on her feet, hand raised as high as she could manage, and eager to participate. Her zeal was so evident, that she was indeed chosen for the game. She truly wanted to grab at every opportunity that Kids Camp could give her.

One special moment that really stuck out in her mind at camp, was about her counselors and how they have helped her love Jesus while at camp.

Besides finding a new love for Jesus, being at camp also means making new friends for Robin. She claimed she made a lot of close friendships especially this year.

Just by observing Robin’s passion, one could immediately tell Camp Mihaska was like a second home to this young camper, and she will no doubt be back for more Camp Mihaska next year.

Engaging Today’s Youth to Volunteer

A 17-year-old Entrepreneur’s Passion to Feed the Hungry

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

While Nate Noss might appear to be a normal high school student, his service and dedication to serve the hungry is something to be emulated. This impressively driven teen is so passionate about the cause he created  his own nonprofit, St. Louis Food Rescue, an ally to The Salvation Army’s work in the St. Louis area.

Nate is the captain of Whitfield High School’s cross country team, member of the varsity wrestling team, a student in AP Calculus and AP French, a trumpet player in three bands and ensembles, a nationally-ranked chess competitor, and a pianist in his free time, but most of all, the founder and president of St. Louis Food Rescue. These are just beginning of the amazing successes that this 17-year-old from Wildwood has achieved.

Nate began volunteering at his local food pantry when he was only 11 years old. Nate and his mom spent the next four summers working there, averaging 150 hours per summer.

“Volunteering at the food pantry allowed me to begin to see the needs of my community,” said Nate. “I started to learn about those less fortunate than myself.”

Nate soon realized that he could do more than volunteer. At the age of 15, he contacted grocery stores and bakeries with the mission of picking up the food left over at the end of the day and delivering it to the food pantry, but he was met with much rejection and humiliation. Despite his young age, Nate remained determined and ultimately became successful. Whole Foods, Costco, Einstein Bros Bagels and Donut Palace all agreed to donate on a weekly basis.

“The first time I went to Whole Foods, I could not believe the amount of perishables that were going to be thrown away had it not been for me,” said Nate, “and I knew that there were hungry people in my community.”

After attending the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference in July of 2011, Nate’s life was changed.

“The people at HOBY cared about today’s youth and our potential instead of what we take away from society,” said Nate.

From this experience, he was motivated to turn a small community service project into a non-profit organization.

“It was not easy,” explained Nate. “Creating a nonprofit takes lots of time which must be spent contacting donors, sponsors, recruiting media attention, creating a website, and much more.”

St. Louis Food Rescue currently saves 5,000 pounds of produce, baked goods and dairy products that would have been discarded at the end of the day by local food retailers and immediately delivers it to homeless shelters and food pantries in the St. Louis community.

Nate and Eric Engel, vice president and co-founder of the organization, lead about 30 teenage volunteers to deliver the food to three local homeless shelters and food pantries: The Salvation Army Church and Community Center in O’Fallon, The Salvation Army Family Haven Community in Partnership in North St. Louis County and the New Life Evangelistic Center in downtown St. Louis.

Collectively, this organization donates roughly 100 hours of service to the St. Louis community per week.

“I love this program,” exclaimed Nate. “Instead of just feeding the hungry, we are able to do three things: help the environment by ensuring that all the energy expended to produce, package, transport and refrigerate is not in vain, feed the hungry, and involve today’s youth by allocating all leadership and volunteer opportunities to young people. We have helped over a quarter of a million people to date.”

With fewer than 20 percent of organizations involving youth extensively in their work, St. Louis Food Rescue has had an astonishing impact on young people.

“I want to help all the time,” said volunteer Michael Schifano. “It is so much fun to participate in community service in which you know that you are feeding thousands with just a couple hours of your time.”

Recently, local troops of Boy Scouts have been volunteering to help Nate with various food transports due to an increased demand for food in the shelters and an increase in donations.

In 2011, the O’Fallon Shelter served 15,000 people and roughly 500 families each month. The need at the O’Fallon Pantry increased from 50 families a month in 2011 to 600 families a month in 2012, and that without people like Nate and groups like SLFR, would be impossible to keep up with the need with limited resources. Government food commodities that the O’Fallon food pantry used to receive were cut by 80 percent this year, and the increase in need has been a huge challenge to meet.

“It is amazing to see someone that young recognize a need within the community,” commented Captain Paul Ferguson, who is based at the O’Fallon Salvation Army. “Nate and The St. Louis Food Rescue are allowing families that might not be in the best economic situation to access healthier food options.”

The O’Fallon homeless shelter uses the fresh produce to cook healthy meals for the residents and to stock their food pantry. Mercedes Bilow, a culinary instructor from St. Charles Community College, hosts a class every other Saturday at the shelter to teach residents how to prepare healthy meals while on a limited budget. The fresh fruits and vegetables she uses in her classes comes from Nate’s weekly donations to the center.

Peggy Sherwin, manager at The Salvation Army Lodge in O’Fallon, has a close relationship with Nate and is grateful for his contributions to help the less fortunate.

“Nate is someone who is humble, sincere and caring,” said Peggy. “I can see the underlying passion inside of him that motivates him to want to help others. He leads by example and has a true heart for service.”

In May 2012, Nate received the the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Outstanding Young Alumni Award in New York at the 2012 Albert Schweitzer Leadership Awards Gala. With more than 100,000 kids ages 16 to 25 eligible to apply for the award, Nate was one of four selected as a recipient. And just a year after he represented his high school at the Missouri seminar where sophomores from all across the state gather to experience a life changing three day event, Nate, along with Eric, will be going back to HOBY Missouri as guest speakers to inspire more teenagers.

This summer, Nate is interning at the St. Charles headquarters for Youth in Need, which is a nonprofit child and family services agency that offers a variety of crisis prevention and intervention programs. His future plans include applying to study environmental and civil engineering at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology or applying to Bradley University or George Washington University.

While co-founder Eric will leave in the fall for Point Park University, therefore giving up his position to another young person, he is happy about how he spent his time.

“Helping those less fortunate became a part of my life,” said Eric. “I remember the first time I couldn’t participate in a Sunday night food collection because I was sick. When I went to school, I didn’t feel right – almost like part of my life was missing.”

The goal of St. Louis Food Rescue is expanding on what has already been built. Nate pledges that he and his organization “will not stop giving back until we are satisfied that every person has their basic human needs fulfilled.”

For more information on St. Louis Food Rescue, visit http://www.stlfoodrescue.org/.

For more information on the O’Fallon Salvation Army, visit http://www.usc.salvationarmy.org/usc/www_usc_ofallon.nsf.

To donate food items to help us sustain the need, reach out to Danni Eickenhorst at Danielle_Eickenhorst@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Patch.com Inspires St. Charles Residents to Volunteer with The Salvation Army

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

“Make sure you know why you are volunteering,”
announced Captain Paul Ferguson of The Salvation Army to
the group gathered at the 2nd Street Bike Stop Cafe for a volunteerism networking event. The presentation on May 30 was hosted by St. Charles Patch and The Salvation Army to help local residents find volunteer opportunities and included a tutorial on how to share their experiences through Patch.com.

Captain Ferguson, who is stationed at The Salvation Army in O’Fallon, Mo., revealed the great demand for assistance in the northwestern portion of St. Louis County. For instance, the O’Fallon food pantry fed 15,000 people in 2011, and the family shelter, which has 28 beds, is always filled to capacity. Captain Ferguson mentioned a variety of ways for area residents to assist non-profit organizations such as The Salvation Army by donating clothes, food, toys and time in a variety of service outlets.

“Try using your skills and hobbies to find volunteer opportunities that you will enjoy,” suggested Captain Ferguson. “Schools, libraries, homeless shelters and food pantries always could use some extra help.”

Kalen Ponche, St. Charles Patch editor, spoke about the “Give 5 Days” event where Patch employees found new ways to volunteer within their own communities. Other Patch editors present included: Jordan Lanham of O’Fallon Patch, Tamara Duncan of Wentzville Patch, Joe Barker of St. Peters Patch and Kurt Greenbaum, the St. Louis regional editor for Patch.

Boasting as “a local Youtube and Flickr,” Patch currently has 23 news sites dedicated to communities in the St. Louis area. By allowing residents to post events, pictures, blogs, videos, business listings, announcements or calendar updates, Patch serves as a way for neighborhoods to stay connected.

“Using Patch.com, we are hoping to build an interconnected relationship with our readers and create a beautiful tapestry of stories,” said Lindsay Toler, host for the event and Social Media Miner at Patch.com. “We would love to cover all of the stories throughout St. Louis ourselves, but when the stories are created and shared by actual residents, they become more authentic and moving.”

To sign up for your community newsletter, visit patch.com.

To view more pictures from the event, visit The Salvation Army St. Louis Flickr site.

An Inside Look at the O’Fallon Family Shelter

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

The O’Fallon Community Center is a
beautiful location of five acres complete with food pantry, shelter, chapel, playground, multipurpose room, nursery, garden and even a trail in the woods where residents can enjoy “prayer walks” with Captain Paul. On Tuesday, May 15, this community center hosted an open house and tours for the public to view its wonderful facilities. While along one of these tours, I learned that this community center is not simply a shelter, but a home where lost souls can piece their lives back together and revive themselves.

Captain Paul made it apparent that people seeking out the O’Fallon Community Center are not so different from our own family members.

“We are seeing more and more of our neighbors,” says Captain Paul as he began the tour. “Things are tight, and these are people you wouldn’t expect.”

Homelessness can strike anyone, especially in this tough economy. Of course, The Salvation Army does not discriminate against anyone who seeks their help.

“We are first and foremost a church,” Captain Paul claims. “Jesus took care of people, and so we do the same. Jesus didn’t ask where you’re from.”

All who come to the O’Fallon Community Center will receive help in some way, whether it is a shopping cart full of food, a safe place to live or assistance in finding a job.

This shelter wants to see its residents get back on track and return as active members in the community. As soon as a family or a single person checks into the shelter, a specified plan for their recovery is arranged in accordance to each family’s individual needs. A pathway to employment is set in place, and residents are required to attend classes at the shelter, which remind them how to properly participate in society again. These include classes on cooking, decorating, how to shop, how to keep the home neat, among many others. In addition to classes, both Captain AmyJo and Captain Paul mention the commendable relationship this particular shelter has with local school districts. Both Captains made the same comment: “The buses pick our kids up first and drop them off last, so no one has to know they are shelter kids.”

With help from classes and school districts, it is clear the shelter wants to see residents regain their place in society, but the shelter also wants to rebuild them a place in their own families. To help with this phase, there is a spacey dining room in which families are encouraged to eat together, and the children often set the table like in a traditional family. A warm and homey common room is great for families to watch television, play games, or read together. This facility runs a wonderful operation that focuses on keeping traditions alive and learning how to be a family again.

“Homelessness does not happen overnight,” remarks Captain AmyJo. “Sometimes families see months or years of crisis before they come here, and so the family system itself has blown apart.”

The O’Fallon Community Center is committed to rebuilding this family dynamic.

The residents of this facility have been through tragedies, and so they are offered a place to land where people love them and where they can make a life for themselves.

“We want the community atmosphere,” states Captain AmyJo.

That’s why the O’Fallon Community Center offers classes, a youth program that hosts activities Wednesday evenings, chapel services and so much more. This beautiful facility provides an environment where families can enjoy each other, enjoy a sense of togetherness and even take the time to enjoy nature!

It’s apparent the O’Fallon Community Center is more than meets the eye. Captain AmyJo comments on the trustworthiness of this facility.

“This is a system to get better, not just a place to crash,” she says. “We take people from homelessness to part of the economy. We’re not a shelter, we’re a program.”

This last statement wholly sums up the work of The O’Fallon Community Center. This is truly a place where compassionate, understanding and giving workers of The Salvation Army carry out God’s work.

Advocate for the Hungry in Tomorrow’s Online Tweet Up – #CEREALDRIVE!

Join us on Friday March 23 from 7 to 8 am for an online-only Tweet Up and advocate for the hungry. This tweet up will be a great opportunity to network with others over your cheerios and in your pajamas, while raising awareness for food insecurity in the St. Louis region.

This tweet-up is being held in support of The Salvation Army’s O’Fallon food pantry, which has seen more than a tenfold increase in need this year, and which is in critical need of nutritious breakfast cereals.

Follow us on Twitter @SalArmySTL and join in the conversation using #CEREALDRIVE!

For more information on the need, click here.

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