Tag Archives: O’Fallon

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.

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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.

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.

Tackling Hunger in our Hometown – #CerealDrive

By: Danni Eickenhorst, Midland Division

In an area that many think of as stable and event somewhat affluent, families are living in houses valued at 6 and 7 figures, with empty plates and barren cupboards. In a trend we hoped had been a fluke, the need we saw last summer at our O’Fallon, MO food pantry continues to grow. On distribution days at the food pantry, luxury cars and unlikely clients fill the parking lot and chairs waiting for their allotments of food.

“These people were once living on the edge and the economy has in fact pushed them over that edge,” says Captain Ferguson, “People who were once dedicated donors are now having to swallow their pride and ask for assistance.”

Once serving only 50 families per month from the O’Fallon Salvation Army, Captain Paul Ferguson and his team now serve nearly 600 families per month, working to help those families gain self-sufficiency so that they might be able to get on their feet once more.

“The greatest need we are seeing now is nutritious breakfast cereals. They can be costly to purchase for a pantry and for a family, but they pack a lot of nutrition into one meal. So many of these children are wholly dependent on the foods they receive in school for adequate nutrition, and on the weekends, summer and spring break they need something that will hold them over. We just can’t keep in on the shelves. It’s a real commodity, and one that we are lacking right now.”

Breakfast cereal donations are needed at the O’Fallon Salvation Army. Donations can be delivered to the community center located at 1William Booth Drive in O’Fallon.

Please help us in raising awareness of this need, and for the work of the O’Fallon community center by participating in #CerealDrive on Twitter.

Genuine Holiness: Serving God & Staying True to Yourself

By: Captain AmyJo Ferguson, O’Fallon (MO) Worship & Community Center

ImageThe usual Christian approach to purity involves this sort of heaping on of the good while eschewing the bad.  If I can listen to the right music, watch the right shows, read the right books, and do the right things while simultaneously avoiding all the wrong stuff, I’ll somehow attain some level of purity.  I suppose this works out pretty well if one really enjoys the Gaither Vocal Band, Lifetime original movies, Janette Oke, and scrapbooking, because those are the things that the church has deemed “pure and right.”

We probably take this approach from the many “Garbage In/Garbage Out” sermons and devotionals that we were exposed to in the late 80s and early 90s.  We use verses like Philippians 4: 8 (“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”) to justify our “try harder” theology.   We keep believing that one day we will be holy enough to vote Republican. I recall one particularly trying time when the party I was traveling with decided to listen to the same two worship CDs over and over again on a six hour journey.  These CDs featured 10 two or three minute songs first with vocals and then again without vocals.  I found myself praying for some sort of temporary deafness as the two adults in the front seat sang, “Ha la la la la la la hallelujah” for the 3rd time.  As they began the 4th time through and I didn’t enjoy it any more than the 1st, I began thinking, “Is there something wrong with me?”

There are people like me who vote a mixed political ticket, love the Ramones, adore Kurt Vonnegut and Lawren Harris and worship Chris with our whole heart, yet we struggle with the church’s idea of holiness.  We are supposed to “be like Jesus” even though Jesus never dealt with a computer, radio or television.  We are supposed to fully consecrate ourselves to Christ and to act in his service.  How does that work out in a two party system where all too often the choice seemingly comes down to morally straight or socially responsible?   I’m afraid that the reason why a whole bunch of people have given up on this holiness thing is that they feel trapped between the church sanctioned ideas of purity and their own sense of good taste and ideology.  Churches are full of “followers of Christ” who in frustration have given up on actually following Christ and that problem extends beyond just the music we listen to and the books that we read.

At this point, some pastors would suggest that we “surrender it all.” I would rather suggest this: Stop pursuing some preconceived notion of righteousness and go on a whole-hearted pursuit of God.  Romans 9: 30 – 32 “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.”  Jesus never really fit into the accepted norms of his day, perhaps the most holy of us don’t exactly fit in either.

MasterCard employees donate their time to make over The Salvation Army’s O’Fallon Shelter

St. LouisMore than 75 MasterCard Worldwide employees converged upon The Salvation Army’s O’Fallon homeless shelter to work on a large-scale improvement project, a part of a United Way “Days of Caring” initiative.  

Team MasterCard employees add a basketball hoop to the shelter playground.

The O’Fallon location has realized and serviced an unprecedented level of need in the community throughout 2011 and was chosen to be the beneficiary of MasterCard’s volunteer service project to aid The Salvation Army, which now serves up to 500 area families on a monthly basis through its food pantry.  

“We’re pleased to have MasterCard volunteers supporting such an important project for The Salvation Army, an organization that does so much for our community to support our friends and neighbors in times of need,” said Amanda Gioia, Senior Business Leader of Worldwide Communications at MasterCard. 

In an effort to give back to the St. Louis community, MasterCard mobilizes employees to do good throughout the St. Louis area. In the past year, more than 1,300 volunteers have joined Team MasterCard in community service projects aimed at bettering the community in which they live and work. 

Volunteers performed deep cleaning, painting, landscaping and other projects throughout the O’Fallon campus that houses a community center, social services office, homeless shelter and church. Volunteer employees also constructed a basketball court near the shelter playground. 

“We are helping individuals and families at such a rapid pace that these projects are often placed on the back burner. The work that MasterCard employees are doing today is so important. A shelter in good repair gives residents a sense of pride in their surroundings, and a sense of stability. We are so thankful that they reached out to lend a hand,” says Salvation Army Captain Amy Jo Ferguson.

 The Salvation Army is an international organization that has been doing the most good in the St. Louis region for 129 years. The Salvation Army serves community members 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year through dozens of different programs and services that are designed to help people attain, or regain, self-sufficiency.

Salvation Army among seven non-profits to receive $1.1 million in tax credit assistance

The Missouri Department of Economic Development announced today that The Salvation Army and six other area non-profits have been approved for more than $1.1 million in tax credit assistance through its Neighborhood Assistance Program, with additional credits to be announced in another round later this year.

The Salvation Army was approved for $150,000 in tax credits under the program to benefits its Harbor Light Job Training Program and the O’Fallon (Mo.) Emergency Shelter. The Harbor Light program provides job training, life skills seminars, housing, work opportunities and case management to homeless men working to establish and maintain sobriety. The O’Fallon Emergency Shelter, which is regularly at maximum capacity, works to provide shelter, resource assistance, client counseling, money management training and employment assistance for women and children in crisis.

The Center for Head Injury Services, Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri, Missouri Energycare Inc., Our Little Haven, Peter and Paul Community Services Inc., and St. Patrick Center join The Salvation Army on the list of approved agencies.

Adopt-a-bed program launched to support local shelters

The Salvation Army announces the kick-off of their Adopt-A-Bed program, a sponsorship and donation program to support the work of the O’Fallon and Alton homeless shelters. The Salvation Army provides services to families in the St. Louis area, and seeks to help them break the cycle of poverty, by helping them to become stable and self-sufficient.

Adopt-a-Bed sponsorships are available at a variety of levels, and work to continue the work of The Salvation Army in O’Fallon and Alton, two of the most critically impoverished communities in the metro area. The Alton shelter provides services to more than 300 individuals annually, and operates at maximum capacity continuously. The O’Fallon shelter has seen a tenfold increase in need in their area from 2010 to 2011. Both shelters have seen reduced donations, and budget cuts from programs that previously supported their work.

“It is easy to overlook the need,” says Captain Paul Ferguson of the O’Fallon corps, “but people are now asking for help for the very first time. They live in nice houses and drive nice cars, but they’re suddenly struggling to pay for utilities and groceries and are at risk of losing their houses and cars. They never expected to experience this level of need.”

The Salvation Army asks those interested in adopting a bed to call the O’Fallon (636.240.4969) and Alton (314.465.7764) shelters directly to donate, or to donate online and specify “Alton Shelter” or “O’Fallon shelter” when making their donation.

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