Tag Archives: Volunteer

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:


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.




Angels are needed: Apply Within

We’re approaching December at lightning pace, and we still need many people to help with volunteering during our busiest and most important time of the year:

Angel Tree volunteers

What is Angel Tree? We collect information about disadvantaged children and what they want for Christmas (and the essentials that they really need), and then volunteers at Toy Town distribute gifts to them later in December. We need people to work at the Angel Tree Station at St. Louis Mall (formerly St. Louis Mills) on Thursdays through Sundays until December 16th. Can you take two hours with your friends or family to help kids have a merrier Christmas? Contact Sheila Davis to volunteer sheila_r_davis@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Bell Ringers

I hope you’ve seen all the friendly faces greeting you at the grocery store and malls, and we absolutely need more people to help be ambassadors for our mission. Take two hours solo or join your friends to help spread the good work of The Salvation Army. We know that what you do for us helps save lives, so two hours or more would be a prayer answered for us. 

Online Red Kettle

Ringing a bell outside of a grocery store is very effective. But if ringing the bell from the comfort of your couch is more your style, then we need you on the front lines of the internet. Sign up for an Online Red Kettle and if you need help, email Dana Biermann at dana_biermann@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Our fundraising goal this Tree of Lights season is 6.5 million dollars. That is going to support all of our programs across Missouri and Southern Illinois. The only possible way for us to achieve this goal is for angels like you to help in one of these areas. Even if it’s only for two hours one day, you are making a difference.

Thank you for all that you do and more.

‘Tis (almost) the Season

'Tis (almost) the Season

It’s that time of year where in a few weeks, volunteers just like you will be out in full swing at grocery stores, department stores and other hot spots ringing that bell and helping raise money for our community. But we want to know what you think of when you see our bell ringers. Christmas dinner shopping? Wrapping presents? Poverty? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

And if you want to be a bell ringer that makes our work possible, sign up here.

Help us and Patch find who is Doing the Most Good

Attention volunteers and the people who love them! Nominate the person that is Doing the Most Good in STL and they get our thanks, recognition, and a night off–all on us. Nominations due Oct 15: http://bit.ly/Sy9WQ1

Overcoming Temptations and Hardships

A Woman’s Journey to follow the Straight and Narrow Path

By: Bethany Williams, Midland Division

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

From a young age, Ashley Berigan (pictured right) has endured many hardships that have influenced who she is today. Her father died when she was only 14, and by the time she was 17, Ashley was surrounded with negative influences.

Partying constantly and abusing drugs and alcohol, Ashley found herself pregnant and homeless when she was just 19 years old. After her mother kicked her out of their house, Ashley was terrified and alone. She ended up finding comfort and shelter at The Salvation Army in Alton, Illinois.

“That was the first time I’ve ever been homeless,” says Ashley. “It was scary.” Living at the shelter, she went to counseling once a month and received hope from the people at The Salvation Army. Ashley soon realized that she personally was not in a good position to take care of a child, and ultimately decided to give her son up for adoption after he was born. After making this tough decision, Ashley realized that she needed to change.

“Life can get pretty scary,” says Ashley, “so I wanted to follow the straight and narrow path.”

Today, Ashley is 26 and has a variety of new positive interests that include watching scary movies, listening to music, taking pictures and creating artwork for her family. Ashley has completed an art course at Lewis and Clark Community College and will be taking a photography class in the fall. One of her favorite paintings she has created is featured on the left.

Staying sober and away from drugs, Ashley looks toward the future in hopes of getting married and starting a family.

“God is trying to tell me something. All of the people who have helped me have come into my life for a reason.”

Because of this, Ashley has found a desire to give back and help others by sharing the importance of surrounding themselves with positive people.

“I am grateful for what I have, ” says Ashley, “and I thank God everyday because I am lucky to be alive.”

To make a donation to The Salvation Army and support people like Ashley, please visit https://donate.salvationarmyusa.org/midland/yesfund.

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.

Carefest faith challenge held at Arnold Salvation Army

By: Becky Kreienkamp, Salvation Army

The Arnold Salvation Army kicked off Carefest in an effort to give back to and care for the members of their church and community center.

On June 3, The Salvation Army’s Arnold Corps kicked off Carefest, a program designed to assist the congregation’s members who need God’s word, help around the house, or a person to listen to their story. On Sunday, members of the congregation started by taking baked goods to their fellow church members and asking if they need help with household tasks or if they simply need someone to engage them in conversation or prayer. Charity work like this has of course been done by all of The Salvation Army corps, but this is the first time a corps has put a name to such charity work.

Linda Day, Corps Sergeant Major of the Arnold corps, is the brains behind Carefest and she explained in detail about this fantastic program. This corps is going out to help their fellow church members and soldiers who are now older and are not able to come to church anymore. Carefest gives church members the opportunity to remind these withdrawn members of God’s love, as well as help them with household tasks they are no longer able to perform. Just giving people a chance to talk about their troubles could be the best therapy. “We will sit down over something as common as bread and cookies, and ask ‘how are you doing? What’s been going on?’ Maybe they need a weekly visit,” says Captain Debbie Osborn.

Linda explained that since Carefest is just beginning, participants will find out who else needs assistance by observing their friends and neighbors as the program progresses. “Carefest is a catalyst for what we want to do,” says Linda Day. And what the Arnold corps wants to do is help the community, but first they will start by helping their fellow members and soldiers.

Carefest is starting out small, but mighty. One does not need a high status in the church to participate. Many of the partakers are men who enjoy doing odd jobs around the church, and now their work is being expanded to the community. Carefest is so wonderful because church members of all ages and backgrounds can join in reaching out to disadvantaged congregation members. Linda has even recruited her young nephews to go on visits with her. “I hope they pick up why we do it, why we help people,” says Linda about her nephews. This is a great opportunity to build the faith lives of all involved; the helpers and the helped can learn the importance of carrying out God’s will.

The program is in it’s early stages, but Captain Matt Osborn, Captain Debbie Osborn, and Linda Day are all confident Carefest will go a long way to help the community. Right now, the Arnold corps is helping only their fellow church members and people they know on a personal level. Soon, this may expand to strangers who also need to know God’s love.

However, helping a friend in need is more difficult than one would think. Both Captain Matt and Captain Debbie explained that people are prideful, and are shy about accepting help. “We want to cross that barrier, take down that wall,” says Captain Matt about these reserved members. The church members participating in Carefest want their friends to know they are willing to lend a hand no matter the circumstances, and no judgment is passed on any person in need.

During her sermon on Sunday morning, Captain Debbie challenged her congregation to put their faith into action and go out of their comfort zone, and that’s exactly what Carefest is all about. Captain Debbie explained that a friendly face can truly go a long way, “just a visit will do a person a world of good,” she said during her sermon. Corps Sergeant Major Linda Day summed up Carefest beautifully with these words: “It’s a faith challenge. They go hand and glove; faith and works.”

For more on the Arnold Salvation Army, click here.

To find one near you, click here.

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.

Corporate Sponsorships: Choosing to “Do the Most Good”

By: Andreea Cojocariu, @andreeac_t, Guest Blogger

Let’s take a break from discussing marketing strategy to discuss corporate sponsorships. I think it’s important for companies and their employees to be active in the community. But before I go any further, let me say this. You should want to be involved because you sincerely care about a cause or an organization, not because you have to. It’s important to care about your community, because your community supports you by shopping or utilizing your services. So by supporting your community in return, you’re helping yourself. It’s a nice little cycle. Now that I’ve said, let’s get down to business.

There are many reasons besides caring to get involved.

Builds brand awareness. The more you sponsor, the more your logo gets put in front of your ideal consumers, the more they’ll remember you. It plants a seed so whenever they need your service, they might just look you up and give you a call.

Builds your network. As professionals, networking is gold. You never know when you’re going to meet someone that will impact your business. Whether it’s now or down the road, it pays to be social. Although the people you meet may not be your consumers right away, they may know others who might and they’ll talk about you– good ol’ grassroots marketing.

Team Building. Sponsoring and participating in a nonprofit event builds your team. By working together to help another organization, you’re taking the focus off the grind of sales and increasing the bottom line. It shows your employees that care about other things besides making money, although that’s important too. It tells them you have heart and you in turn care about them as people. That’s a good feeling for an employee. Sponsorships and volunteer activities keeps talent. I know that I work best with companies who give back. On a side note, I’m usually the one organizing these things. Seeing my team work together and people smiling while doing something good for others makes it worth my efforts.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing tax deductions. Yes, Uncle Sam will cut you a break if you choose to help a nonprofit. But that should not be the sole reason you decide to sponsor an event or make a monetary donation. Again, I’m going to tell you that you should choose to help because you care.

I care. I am big advocate for community involvement on all levels. I encourage my employers to get involved, and I personally am involved. In the past, I’ve worked with the Madison County Child Advocacy Center in Illinois, helping them raise money so they can stay open to help child abuse victims. I help promote their events, especially their annual trivia night and silent auction held in February. Helping an organization who helps abused children heal stay open to provide those services is something I’ll continue doing.

And now my focus is on helping the Salvation Army of St. Louis. They need help. I choose to help them because they help others on a massive scale. I say that we can save the world by smiling– one smile at a time, one good deed at a time. That’s unrealistic, but the idea is doing something simple to help others. The Salvation Army of St. Louis’ motto is doing the most good. That is precisely what they do (while smiling of course). They were in Joplin this week during the 1 year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed this town. But let me say this. The tornado destroyed buildings. It did not destroy the human spirit of love and kindness. The Salvation Army showed Joplin how much their neighbors care. It was because of partnerships and corporate giving that allowed the Salvation Army to do the most good in Joplin.

Now it’s time to help the Salvation Army of St. Louis again. The issue is homelessness. St. Louis homelessness is increasing yearly at alarming rates. More and more families are on the streets than ever before. It’s time to do something about it. It’s time to raise awareness and funds so the Salvation Army can do for the homeless what they did for Joplin.

The Garbage Bag Gala is July 27th at the Moonrise Hotel . Attendees will have a fabulous night. For $45, they get to eat, socialize, and watch a fashion show. Models will be showcasing the latest in garbage bag and duct tape designs. I, along with about 30 others I think, will be modeling these trend setting styles. Tickets for the Garbage Bag Gala are on sale.

As much fun as it will be, the Salvation Army of St. Louis still needs corporate sponsors. This is an easy and fun way to get involved and do the most good. All it requires is for your company to write a check. And honestly, the check amount isn’t that much when you think about how many lives, how many homeless people in St. Louis, the Salvation Army will help.

Here is how your company can help and do the most good.

$5,000.00 sponsor: Company logo to be featured on invitation, event signage, promotional flyers, website and social media. Letter from sponsor company in the gift bag (page – to be provided by sponsor). Company name will be listed in press releases, submitted to all media outlets. Company will be recognized from the podium at the awards ceremony. Opportunity to display multiple company banners at the event. Social media recognition. Opportunity to provide a give-away to all participants. First right of negotiation for GBG 2013.

$1,750.00 sponsor: Company logo to be featured on event signage, promotional flyers, website and social media. Company will be recognized form the podium at the awards ceremony. Opportunity to display a banner at the event. First right of regusal for GBG 2013. Social media recognition.

$500.00 sponsor: Strategic social media push before and during the event to showcase the partnership. Logo to be featured on website and eblast.

This is easy. It’s writing a check. What’s not easy is living on the streets of St. Louis, not having shelter when another devastating storm hits the area, not having food for your family. That’s the hard part. We’re lucky that we all we need to do is write a check and attend a gala. Do the most good today and talk to your company executives and become a sponsor for the Garbage Bag Gala.

If you are interested, you can reach out to me on Twitter @andreeac_t. But I’d prefer you reach out to the Salvation Army @salarmystl. I sincerely thank you in advance for choosing to help the Salvation Army of St. Louis raise awareness and funds for the fight against homelessness in St. Louis.

To read more about Andreea, visit her blog.

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