Category Archives: Volunteers

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.

http://chicquero.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/dancers-among-us-chicquero-photography-dance-rockefeller_center_nyc.jpg?w=450&h=221
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 🙂

kid-bell-ringing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Semi-pro football team lends helping hands

photo (1)

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.

The Wonders of Christmas Through a Child

The following is a guest post by Sheila Davis, Volunteer Coordinator for Divisional Headquarters here in St. Louis.

Beyond the gift buying and trying to think of something new and exciting for friends and family, adults can come to discover the deeper meaning of Christmas. But for a child the biggest wonder of Christmas is the anticipation of what might be under the tree on Christmas morning. And a parent’s greatest joy is watching their child tear into that gaily wrapped gift with abandon and exclaim, “It’s exactly what I wished for!”

But sadly, the struggle with larger issues like keeping a roof over the family’s head and the possible of not having enough food to get through the week make it impossible for some parents to provide even a simple toy at Christmas.  Too many children in our community don’t experience the wonder of Christmas that many of us take for granted.  Some wish, not for toys and games, but for a coat, warm clothes or even a bed that their parents simply can’t provide.

You can help provide the wonder of Christmas to thousands of children in our community this year by volunteering for one or two of our upcoming events.  Join us this Saturday for the Walmart Fill the Truck toy drive.  All stores are participating.  Volunteers are needed to hand out flyers at the store’s entrances explaining the program with customers and help with the collection of the donated new toys and coats. We have volunteer 2-hour shifts for volunteers available starting at 9am until 5pm.  This is great service opportunity for a small family or group or students needing to complete service hours.

The toys collected at this drive will be distributed at our Toy Town Christmas Assistance Program the week of December 17th at several Salvation Army locations. Volunteers are needed to help sort and bag toys and gifts and help distribute the gifts to our pre-screened clients.  We are recruiting volunteers for the following locations:

Kroc

Salvation Army Family Haven CIP – 10740 West Page Avenue, 63132

Salvation Army Gateway Corps (South County) – 824 Union Road, 63123

Salvation Army Euclid Corps (North), 2618 N. Euclid Ave 63113

Please take a few hours out of your busy schedule this holiday season and help a child experience the wonders of Christmas.  To sign up for a shift for Walmart Fill the Truck or Toy Town visit www.stlsalvationarmy.org, click on “Ways to Give” and then select Volunteer. For more information contact Sheila Davis at sheila_r_davis@usc.salvationarmy.org or 314-646-3166 or Larry Pliemann at uscmidvolunteer@usc.salvationarmy.org or 314-646-3188.Salvation Army Temple Corps (South City), 2740 Arsenal St., 63118.

 

 

 

Local family makes volunteering at “Cans” a holiday tradition

The Flood family takes a break from packing cans at the Des Peres Wehrenberg Theatre.

To the Flood family, volunteering at The Salvation Army and Wehrenberg Theatre’s annual “Cans Film Festival” is a family affair. “It’s a part of our holiday season,” said Jan Flood. “We do it every year and we always look forward to it. If they ever quit doing this event, we don’t know what we’d do the first week in December.”

Jan and her husband, Mike, along with their three children — Nicki, Courtney, and Dan — have volunteered with “Cans” for more than 10 years.

Mike, an area manager for UPS, introduced the family to the event when UPS first became involved.

“We convinced the kids to go when they were little just so they could watch Disney movies at the theater; at first they weren’t volunteers,” Jan said. “But as they got older, they wanted to get involved. And we haven’t looked back since.”

The Flood children are so dedicated to the event now, Nicki, now 19-years-old, took a train from Kansas City the night before the event just so she could volunteer.

“I usually don’t come home on the weekends, but I wouldn’t miss this,” she said. “It’s a family tradition now, and it’s something we all look forward to every year.”

Jan agreed.

“We’ve developed a camaraderie with the other volunteers and employees and have so much fun with it. The people here at Wehrenberg are always so nice and take great care of us,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine not being a part of this.”

Throughout the years, the Flood family said they have several fond memories made while volunteering at “Cans.”

“Before everything went digital, we got to take a tour of the projection room one year,” Jan said. “And one year while we were waiting for the UPS truck to arrive, some of the boys made a castle out of the boxes; that was pretty entertaining.”

Mike said he remembers making deliveries to The Salvation Army back in 1978 and seeing the need for events like “Cans.”

“There are so many people who are in need,” he said. “And from actually seeing the people in person who benefit from what we do here at Cans, it makes it even more enjoyable and worthwhile.”

The Flood family, as well as the hundreds of other volunteers who took part in the event Dec. 1, were able to collect and process 330,000 canned goods by5 p.m. when the event concluded.

Dynamic Duo Volunteers Make a Difference

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Scott and Dan are more than just coworkers – they are best friends.

As volunteer maintenance workers for The Salvation Army-Harbor Light Center this dynamic duo always is on the move. They do just about everything from plumbing, electrical work, painting, organizing warehouses, fixing trucks and trailers, and disaster relief – always performing these tasks as a partnership.

Both men began their volunteering journey with The Salvation Army by performing construction at the Harbor Light Center. Realizing the poor condition of this location, their hearts were moved to help all St. Louis-area Salvation Army locations in any way possible. They have been working as an unstoppable team ever since.

Their previous projects include fixing up a playground at the Temple Corps, picking up supplies Boy Scouts collected, fixing up the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse where all the disaster relief supplies are stored, fixing up the social services warehouse where furniture for The Salvation Army is stored, among a myriad of others.

Scott (pictured left) and Dan (pictured right) saw what unfortunate condition these warehouses previously were in, so say they knew there was no other choice but to reorganize them.

In fact, upon arrival at the Emergency Disaster Services warehouse, Scott sat down and immediately wrote a list of everything that needed to be fixed. His list grew to six pages.

Following Scott’s new guidelines, every last box and machine was taken out of the warehouse, supplies were sorted through and the warehouse was reorganized in only two weeks, showing his passionate dedication.

“When we get on a job site, we don’t waste time,” says Dan proudly.

Scott and Dan’s biggest undertakings have been disaster relief projects. This unparalleled duo has helped after the tornado of New Year’s 2011, the Good Friday tornado of 2011, the Harrisburg tornadoes and the Joplin tornadoes. These two have had countless opportunities to touch lives.

“…Cleaning front yards from tornados, it’s simple stuff that really touched people,” explains Dan.

But both Scott and Dan realize while this work is rewarding, it is challenging as well.

“I’ve seen a lot of hurt people,” says Dan as he continues to briefly tell a story about a man in Joplin who didn’t even know his house had been hit by the tornado until he saw The Salvation Army volunteers working on his broken home.

They have definitely seen it all. Dan also explains about a tree that had been picked up by a tornado and planted back down, smack dab in the middle of someone’s house.

“It looked like a flower pot!” says Dan with a hearty laugh.

There is nothing they can’t tackle as long as they are together.

“[The most challenging part of volunteering is] explaining to other people how to do a job other than just doing it yourself,” says Dan. “Others don’t have the sense of immediacy that [Scott and I] do.”

While it might be difficult to take a step back and let others join in when you are as talented as these two, Dan sums up the most rewarding part of volunteering for The Salvation Army in a few words.

“Getting away from yourself,” he says as Scott silently nods in approval with a solemn smile on his face.

In addition to being a volunteer maintenance man, Scott has been pursuing his Ph.D. and heading a research project to cure sepsis. Scott previously served in the Army for 34 years, starting in Vietnam and finishing in Afghanistan. He worked as a special forces medic for the last 31 years of his army career.

Since his army days, he has received a Masters degree in microbiology and a Masters degree in public health. Currently, he teaches graduate students at Washington University Medical School while working toward his Ph.D. and continuing his research. In the fall, he will begin teaching full time and will receive his Ph.D. in December.

“At his age, what else has he got to do?!”  Dan jokes with him.

All jokes aside, however, these men inspire people with their big actions and even bigger hearts.

“We’re the only two they have like us,” says Dan “We’re floaters.”

This couldn’t be a more true testimony, as these two are a one-of-a-kind pair. People might hesitate separating them if they want a job done right. They have been working together for only two-and-a-half years and they are already finishing each other’s sentences, helping each other remember details when recalling past projects and laughing about inside jokes.

It’s apparent they like their job best if they can work together. They work as a team to improve the shelters so the shelters can improve the lives of the homeless. Their impressive skill level allows them to be useful throughout The Salvation Army’s Midland Division.

To put it simply, they can truly go anywhere and do anything. These two absolutely love what they do and they are moved by God every day to fulfill His work.

Passionate Participant of Camp Mihaska Through Generations of Change

Larry helps a camper identify leaf species in his Tree Hugger class.

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Midland Division

Larry Nolan is incredibly passionate about Camp Mihaska, and this summer he let it show at Kids Camp.

He enjoyed teaching classes, leading campers in devotions and activities, and bonding with his fellow camp staff members. Larry is an active member in The Salvation Army Gateway Citadel Corps, but each summer he takes a week of vacation from his duties to enjoy the beautiful Camp Mihaska.

“It’s a retreat from normal life,” says Larry with a gentle laugh.

His greatest joy at this year’s Kids Camp was teaching a Tree Hugger class to young campers, which was particularly special since his grandson was in the class. The Tree Hugger class allowed children to discover different tree species, types of leaves, parts of trees and the diverse uses of trees.

The class involved sitting in a classroom and learning from Larry and his helper Mike Rangel. Other class periods involved inspecting the many trees and leaves around the campsite, allowing kids to see for themselves what they learned about in the classroom.

Besides tree identification, the class incorporated lessons on forest fires and photosynthesis, and the most significant lesson was the importance of not cutting down trees. Even Larry was thrilled about the class content and admitted he gained knowledge from the class too.

“This class is about why you would want to save trees and what we use them for besides shade,” he explains.

Larry was especially excited about his discovery that trees are used to make Twinkies! Trees are used to make an astounding amount of products, and this was a true eye opener for the campers and teachers alike. The children were eager to tell Larry and Mike all the uses of trees they had learned.

“Oxygen! Pencils! Baseball bats! Maple syrup!” they shouted with their hands enthusiastically raised for their teachers.

It brought joy to Larry when he saw his campers learning and asking questions about trees.

Incorporating his interest for the Tree Hugger class, Larry also described his love for the picturesque infrastructure of the camp’s dining hall, which has built-in live tree trunks. The tree trunks were placed on the site, and the dining hall was built around them to create an outdoorsy, forest-like atmosphere in the building.

Larry is impressed by the extraordinary building and excited that it will last for future generations to enjoy as much as he does today.

He has a passion for more than just the camp’s trees, however. He could have sat down for hours and revealed the camp’s hidden treasures and stories. He spoke about the many renovations this camp has undergone.

Larry has seen three previous dining halls, but his favorite by far is the current dining hall with the built-in natural trees. He also spoke of the new cabins, apartments, swimming pool and many other attractions that have been built since Larry has been involved with Camp Mihaska. The most impressive new attraction that Larry has seen is the bottomless pond, which is completely natural.

Apart from Kids camp, Larry has attended many camps in the past as a participant instead of a teacher. A smile lit up his face when describing a Men’s Camp he had attended as memories of paintballing with fellow camp-goers came flooding back to him.

Larry has watched his children and grandchildren enjoy the camp as much as he does.

Camp Mihaska is filled with his memories, and it will continue to bring joy to Larry, his family and future generations to come.

Redefining Dedication

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

At 72 years old, Margie Duff (pictured left) definitely does not look her age as she gleams with dedication in her eyes and love in her heart. Her relationship with The Salvation Army goes back roughly 25 years, starting as a patron of her local Salvation Army store in East St. Louis. Purchasing clothes and toys, Margie was able to provide her large family with basic needs. Finding refuge and faith in The Salvation Army, she decided to send each of her seven children to Sunday Bible School at the center.

“My children would not have turned out to do the amazing things they do today without the Christian upbringing they received from The Salvation Army,” says Margie.

In 2008, Margie believed that a spirit led her to serve at The Salvation Army. She felt an urge to make a difference within her community and give back to the place that assisted her family through hard times. To her surprise, Wanda Carson (pictured right) opened the door the first day she came into volunteer. Wanda, a caseworker at the East St. Louis center, has known Margie her entire life and regards Margie as a mother figure. Because they had not seen each other in 15 years, both women believe that the Lord led them back to each other to share their time and talents through The Salvation Army.

During the past several years, Margie has come to consider The Salvation Army her second home. Wanda considers Margie as a “superwoman” as she dedicates herself in a variety of tasks from teaching nutrition and health classes, and cleaning the kitchen and play areas to supervising summer programs and tutoring children after school. Margie primarily works with the Women’s Ministry in the areas of planning and preparing lunch and serving as a speaker at meetings.

“Margie has been an asset to the center,” says Wanda. “She is talented in many areas and never has a problem taking on more responsibilities. She is concerned about the people here. You can feel it. You can see it through her works.”

When Margie’s husband of 50 years passed away from cancer a few years ago, she turned to The Salvation Army as a place where she could always go to if she ever needed anything or simply to have someone to talk to. Although Margie is an active member at another church, she dedicates her spare time to serving others.

“I always remind my grandchildren that it is better to give than to receive,” says Margie. “I always feel the need to help someone because you never know what situation you might need help with in the future. God blessed me, so I keep blessing other folks.”

While Margie is known for her dedication to volunteering, she also is famous for her cooking, especially her mostacholi dish and carrot cake. In her free time, Margie loves to travel to see her children and she has visited 38 states.

If you’d like to make a difference, see how on The Salvation Army website.

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.

Designers Needed for Garbage Bag Gala

By: Elizabeth Koch, Midland Division

Those with a knack for fashion design are needed to showcase their creativity
at the Moonrise Hotel on July 27 at the Garbage Bag Gala.

Each designer will design a casual and evening wear look out of garbage bags and duct tape for the model they are paired with. No other materials can be used, and stitching is not allowed. At the end of the night, a panel of judges will choose which designer and model combination is the best, and the winners will receive a prize.

Prizes from Loop businesses will be up for grabs, including gifts and gift cards from Blueberry Hill, Fitz’s and The Pageant. Two tickets to the Aug. 4 Cardinal game against the Milwaukee Brewers also will be available. In addition, designers will be publicized in The Salvation Army’s press releases and social media posts for the Garbage Bag Gala.

The Garbage Bag Gala allows attendees to give back to the organization that continues to do the most good in St. Louis – The Salvation Army. The evening will raise awareness about homelessness and educate people about The Salvation Army’s homeless services.

Food and beverages from Eclipse Restaurant will be available during the event, and room packages at the Moonrise Hotel also are available. To learn more about Garbage Bag Gala, visit The Salvation Army’s summer series website, or buy tickets today.

For more information about Garbage Bag Gala or participating as a designer, contact Angie Merseal at 314-646-3193 or angie_merseal@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.

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