A person who makes gifts to children, grandchildren or other heirs will be tax on the fair market value of the gift. The first part of the gift..

Planned Giving: Gift Tax Surprise

Bill: “Every year I pay income tax. And when I pass away my estate will owe tax. But I was absolutely stunned today to hear that I might even have to pay a gift tax! Do you mean that if I give this land to my children, there is yet another tax?”

CPA Carol: “Yes, Bill, there could be a gift tax. You can make small gifts like birthday gifts without tax. But if you give a large property to your children during your lifetime, there could be a gift tax. And it may be as much as 40% of the value.”


Following the passage of the estate tax, Congress realized that a gift tax is also necessary. If there were no gift tax, creative CPAs and estate attorneys would urge their clients to make deathbed gifts. Rather than waiting until they pass away and paying estate tax, if there were no gift tax the transfer tax could be entirely avoided by making death-bed gifts.

As a result, Congress determined that it needed to pass a gift tax in order to make the estate tax effective. Now, even if a person makes gifts on their death-bed the tax will be payable on the transfer to children.


A person who makes gifts to children, grandchildren or other heirs will be taxed on the fair market value of the gift. The first part of the gift is allocated to the annual exclusion. But if the gift is more than that amount, then the cumulative gifts over the donor’s lifetime are added up and compared with the lifetime gift exemption. If your total gifts (over annual exclusions) during your lifetime exceed the gift exemption, then you must pay gift tax.


When the gift tax was first created, Congress understood that parents give birthday gifts and other small gifts to children, grandchildren and other heirs. As a result, Congress decided that there would need to be an exclusion for these smaller gifts. The exclusion was $3,000 for many years, then $10,000 and now has increased in value to $14,000. It is adjusted up for inflation about every three years by another $1,000.


First, the annual exclusion must be a present interest gift. This means that the child or other recipient must be able to use the property or spend the money.

Each person is permitted one gift exclusion per recipient per year. For example, a mother could give her daughter $14,000 under the gift exclusion in 2017. A mother and father could give a son and daughter-in-law $56,000, because there are two donors times two recipients times the $14,000 exclusion.

A grandmother and grandfather with ten grandchildren could make quite large gifts. If each gives $14,000 to the ten grandchildren, then the total gifts under the exclusion amounts would be $280,000 in one year. Assume that they made that same gift every year for ten years, for a total of $2.8 million. If the grandchildren retain and invest the gifts, at the end of ten years the appreciated value could be between $3.5 million and $4.5 million – and all with zero gift tax and no use of their lifetime gift exemption.


Donors will typically first use their available annual exclusions. However, large gifts such as the ranch that Bill contemplates giving to his children may involve use of the gift exemption. The exemption is $5.49 million per person in 2017. After making use of the $14,000 annual exclusion, Bill and his wife, Helen, can each then give $5.49 million in value ($10.98 million total) to children using their lifetime gift exemption.

While there is no tax cost now for using the exemption, it does affect the estate. In future years, there will be a reduced estate exemption. If Bill uses $1 million of his gift exemption, that reduces the future available estate exemption by $1 million.


Yes, there are potential gift deductions for marital gifts, charitable gifts and gifts for medical expenses and tuition.

There is an unlimited gift exclusion for transfers to a spouse. The gifts could be outright or could be in a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust. This is a special marital deduction trust. The spouse receives all the income from the trust and the trust principal can be invaded only for the benefit of the spouse.

A second deduction is for gifts to charity. The donor receives an income tax deduction, but there is also a gift tax deduction so the donor does not have to pay any gift tax on the transfer to charity. Once again, this deduction is unlimited.

A transfer to charity also may be a qualified split-interest transfer. A donor may create a charitable remainder unitrust, charitable remainder annuity trust or pooled income fund gift. The charitable deduction value qualifies for both the income and the gift tax deduction.

Parents and grandparents on occasion will pay the medical bills of a child or grandchild. These gifts are not subject to the gift tax provided the payment is made directly to the medical institution.

Finally, if a parent or grandparent makes tuition payments for a student, those amounts are also not subject to the gift tax.

Salvation Army chief to Trump and Congress: Before work requirements, break poverty cycle

Salvation Army chief to Trump and Congress: Before work requirements, break poverty cycle

For almost 140 years, The Salvation Army has been lifting up Americans in need — the hungry, the homeless, those struggling with addiction, people in every zip code who are challenged by poverty. We have seen firsthand the transformative power of dignified, stable work.

Work is increasingly becoming a requirement for many forms of government assistance, from Medicaid to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, among others. Both the Trump administration and Congress are creating new provisions for work requirements across a broad range of means-tested public assistance programs. Also, a new executive order calls for the consolidation or elimination of federal workforce development programs.

My work at The Salvation Army over the past 40 years has introduced me to some of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met. But many of them are working in low-wage jobs. They face barriers that must be overcome before they can fully enter the labor market. We need to work together — government, nonprofits and businesses — to improve the quantity and quality of work for all.

Many low-skilled workers, the “working poor,” have fluctuating hours, some working more than one part-time job. The ability to consistently log the hours required to qualify for government benefits can be beyond their control. We must encourage businesses to treat these employees fairly by assigning flexible schedules and, in some cases, more hours.

The recently incarcerated are particularly challenged in finding work. Studies show that 60% to 75% of former inmates are unemployed a year after being released. With more than an estimated 85% of employers now conducting background checks, people with felony records may find it nearly impossible to obtain work. Again, we’re collaborating with employers and employees to remove the barriers that many face, once they have served their time.

Two areas need special focus in the coming months and years. First, we need to double down on funding for case management, or holistic assistance to individuals and families based on their unique situations. Case management is a critical component in helping people achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.

 Second, we need creative, pervasive and sustained initiatives focused on education, job skills and workforce development.

The Salvation Army works toward these goals in several ways across the country. In Napa Valley, a culinary training academy helps people who have struggled with homelessness and substance abuse develop kitchen skills and establish meaningful employment in local hospitality industries while instilling professionalism, confidence and dignity. In Minneapolis, The Salvation Army’s Volunteer Aftercare Support Team helps former prison inmates transitioning back into society secure employment. Volunteers provide one-on-one counseling, offering expert advice in the areas of résumé writing, job searching, technology training and career coaching.

Recently in Baltimore, we opened DMG (Doing the Most Good) Foods, The Salvation Army’s first grocery store. Not only will the store meet a desperate need for fresh food in its neighborhood, but also it will train some 80 people a year in the skills of the grocery industry — from food handling and butchering to the logistics of buying and selling fresh, frozen and canned foods. By agreement with the six largest grocers operating in Baltimore, newly trained individuals will be offered employment in for-profit grocery stores thereafter.

We applaud efforts to break the cycles of poverty that entrap millions of Americans over generations. The Salvation Army encourages work as vital and noble. But before requiring work, we must confront the barriers to obtaining it that many Americans face.

Fire causes damage at Collinsville Salvation Army A fire early Saturday morning damaged portions of the Collinsville Salvation Army store.

Fire causes damage at Collinsville Salvation Army

“It is unfortunate to witness the fire and heat damage and destruction to the box and the front of the store,” said Lt. George Keith, officer at the Salvation Army of Martinsville. “We appreciate the support of our neighbors and take very seriously the trust they have in us when they place their donations in the box.”

Keith’s comments were echoed by Glenn Wood, chairman of the local Salvation Army’s advisory board.

“We’re always there to help folks,” Wood said, adding that he can’t imagine how or why something like this would happen. “All donations sold through our store go back to help the community in Martinsville and Henry County.

As the investigation continues, Keith, Wood and other Salvation Army officials are asking for the community’s help to recover what was lost. Mainly, the operation finds itself in need of clothes donations, as they had not yet retrieved this week’s contributions from within the box before the fire.

Also, group officials said they could use some new furniture, as part of what they had on hand inside the storefront behind the box suffered smoke damage.

Until the group is able to get another donation box installed, residents are asked to drop off items only during business hours and also not to just leave the bags sitting outside the store. That’s also a way to make sure the items actually make it to the Salvation Army’s hands, as previously, people have left bags on the doorstep and they’ve been sifted through and sometimes torn apart by the time group members arrive at the store in the morning.

The Collinsville store is open Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Pathway of Hope offers Roanoke Valley families route to stability The Salvation Army program focuses on helping families to become self-sufficient

Pathway of Hope offers Roanoke Valley families route to stability

ROANOKE, Va. – A program at the Salvation Army works to help local families in need. It’s called the Pathway of Hope and it helps families break the cycle of poverty.

The program is for people who are working but aren’t making enough money to support themselves and their families. They must have at least one child and live in Roanoke City or Roanoke County.

Deborah Cobourn, the case manager for the program, says it started with a simple question – why did the Salvation Army keep seeing some of the same people coming in for help?

She says by offering a temporary fix over and over, the Salvation Army didn’t feel like it was really addressing underlying problems. Pathway of Hope’s goal is to address the issues and create targeted solutions. Those involved in the program are put on a path to self-sufficiency and stability.

Cobourn says by making these changes within the family, it’s not just the parents who benefit but the children as well.

“We’re trying to make generational changes here,” Cobourn says. “It’s the ripple effect, that what we do will echo into their lives and it is very powerful. They see everything their parents do and to see somebody come in and say, ‘This can be different.’ That is a huge inspiration to them. They’re always going to carry that with them.”

Pathway of Hope is able to team up with other community organizations to help find the best solution for each family’s need and offer intense one-on-one case management for about 15 families at a time.

Once enrolled, one of the first steps for participants is to figure out the underlying cause of poverty for their situation. It may be situational, by death, divorce or desertion, or it may be intergenerational with the issue of poverty going back two generation or more.

After that, they set their specific goals, determining what it’s going to take to get them from point A to point B.

Cheerilyn Chapman started the program last year and is currently taking part in a Jobs for Life course to help her find a full-time skilled working position. She says after some medical issues knocked her off the planned path, she’s working to get things back on track for her seven kids.

“They’re learning firsthand by seeing it,” says Chapman. “It’s really helpful for them to see me struggling, see me setting goals, see me doing this even at my ripe old age. They’re seeing it can happen. It makes a difference.”

She says one of her goals is to be able to give back and help other families who face similar struggles.

For more information on the Roanoke Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program, click here.

For the first time in its 131-year history, The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory will be led by Jamaicans

Jamaicans Appointed To Lead The Salvation Army For The First Time In 131 Years

For the first time in its 131-year history, The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory will be led by Jamaicans.

They are Lieutenant Colonel Devon Haughton and Lieutenant Colonel Verona Haughton who have both been promoted to the rank of Commissioner.

Devon currently serves as Chief Secretary of The Salvation Army Caribbean Territory and Verona is the Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries.

Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton has been appointed as Territorial Commander (Chief Director of the work) and Lt. Colonel Verona Haughton as Territorial President of Women’s Ministries (Chief Director of women’s movements), in the 16 countries that comprise the Caribbean Territory.

The Lt. Colonels served in Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica in various appointments including corps officers (pastors), divisional leaders for Eastern & Western Jamaica Divisions and training principals, at different periods, for the territory’s training college.

Similarly, Lt. Colonel Devon has served as Secretary (Director) for Programme and Territorial Evangelist while Lt. Colonel Verona has served as Secretary (Director) for Leader Development and Secretary (Director) for Spiritual Life Development.

They have been married for 36 years and are the parents of one daughter, Tephanie Olivia.

A public installation service will be held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in St Andrew on Sunday, April 22, 2018, beginning at 3:00 p.m.
Meet Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton.

*Born in Portland and is a graduate of Portland High School.

*He entered The Salvation Army Training College in 1979 as a member of the “God’s Soldiers” session.

*He completed studies in Management with William & Catherine Booth Theological College and is now pursuing a Master of Arts Degree in Global Urban Leadership at BAKKE Graduate University in the USA.

*His active preaching and teaching ministry has been evident in several of the islands of the Caribbean.

* Lt. Colonel Devon Haughton was a delegate of the 145th Session of the International College for Officers.


Meet Lt. Colonel Verona Haughton.

*Lt. Colonel Verona Haughton (nee Henry) was born in St. Catherine but all her formative years were spent in Buff Bay, Portland.

*She entered The Salvation Army Training College in 1974 as a member of the “Overcomers” session and was a delegate at the Administrative Leadership Training Course in Australia and Training Principal’s conference in London.

*Lt. Colonel Verona holds a Master of Arts Degree in Pastoral Psychology & Counselling and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Guidance and Counselling.

*She also has certificates in Supervisory Management and Public Speaking from Training and Development Services, a branch of Human Resource Development.

*She has passionately devoted time to the training and development of officers and steered the territorial training college to be recognised as an educational institution under the Independent Schools of Jamaica.

Salvation Army Continues Long-term Hurricane Response in the Caribbean

Salvation Army Continues Long-term Hurricane Response in the Caribbean

London, 24 April 2018 – The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the worst in living memory. Major damage was recorded in Mexico and central America, and across the southern states of the USA, but perhaps the most significant devastation was seen on some of the Caribbean islands. The Salvation Army’s Caribbean, Latin America North and USA Eastern Territories, utilising staff and officers from corps (Salvation Army churches) across the region, was on the scene immediately, providing emergency help and aid to those in the greatest need. More than six months later, the response continues.

On the morning of 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma made landfall in the northern Caribbean. Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Sint Maarten, the US Virgin Islands, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and St Kitts and Nevis were badly affected and Barbuda was rendered uninhabitable, with most of the population being evacuated for their safety. Hurricane Irma was swiftly followed by Maria, the 10th-strongest hurricane in recorded history, which made landfall in Puerto, Turk and Caicos, and Dominica – where at least 80 per cent of the population was affected.

As the clouds began to clear, the severity of the situation was exposed to the world and The Salvation Army responded with numerous projects, providing food, shelter, non-food items (NFIs), mattresses and beds, and putting in place livelihood recovery programmes.

Working with local governments across the Caribbean, the neediest people were selected as initial beneficiaries for projects made possible by donations from the USA-based Salvation Army World Service Office (SAWSO) and Salvation Army offices in Canada, The Netherlands, Norway and the USA Eastern Territory. Non-Salvation Army donors included EO Metterdaad and Coca-Cola.

Experienced responders were also sent to the region on behalf of The Salvation Army’s International Emergency Services team, based in London. They provided expert assistance to local Salvation Army teams and reported back on some of the life-saving projects they witnessed.

One story that the team said was particularly memorable is that of a man known as Mr Louis, a retired 69-year-old who has lived on Dutch-speaking Sint Maarten since birth. As a child, he experienced Hurricane Donna, a category 5 storm that hit Sint Maarten in 1960, but he told Salvation Army workers that he had never seen anything like Hurricane Irma.

On the night of 5 September, Mr Louis went to bed as usual, only to be woken up in the middle of the night by severe winds and rain hammering his house. Frightened, he huddled with his wife and daughter in the living room, only for the roof of his home to be crushed by a fridge that had been thrown through the air by the storm. The family sought shelter from the rain in their car but, when they saw other cars and even sea containers being lifted and thrown around by the strong winds, they moved to their cellar. They stayed there until the hurricane had passed the island the next day.

Coming out of their shelter, they witnessed absolute devastation. The hurricane had caused major damage to their house – the porch was completely ripped away, windows were broken, doors were gone, the roof was crushed and most of their furniture would be impossible to save due to extreme water damage.

Conducting assessment visits to the Cole Bay area of Sint Maarten, where Mr Louis’s family has lived for more than 100 years, The Salvation Army identified him as a beneficiary of the shelter rebuilding programme. The damage was assessed and Mr Louis was provided with materials to rebuild his home, including hurricane straps that will make his new roof hurricane proof.

Mr Louis was helped to rebuild his house by his neighbours, supported by the Salvation Army team in Sint Maarten. He says that it will take years for Sint Maarten to recover from this devastating disaster, but he feels blessed with the support provided by The Salvation Army. He feels confident that, now the repairs to his house have been completed – especially the new roof – he will be able to protect his family from the hurricanes that he knows will continue to sweep across the Caribbean every year.

The Sint Maarten rebuilding programme is just one of a number of Salvation Army projects still under way across the Caribbean. On Turks and Caicos, for instance, children are being provided with school lunches and uniforms to help them to continue their education. Beds and bedding have been provided on the Bahamas, rebuilding programmes are under way on Dominica and on Barbuda, where households have been provided with basic provisions to see them through the short term and fishermen and a fisherwoman have received new boats and equipment to start replacing everything that was lost when Hurricane Irma struck. The response on St Kitts and Nevis includes providing assistance to the people who lost their homes.

Already, the people of the Caribbean are looking ahead to the 2018 hurricane season and wondering how they will be affected. The Salvation Army is committed to sustainable projects that bolster and enrich communities, enabling people to recover in the short term but also to be better prepared when, not if, the next hurricane arrives – maybe not this year or next year, but at some point in the near future.

  • Donations to support The Salvation Army’s relief efforts across the Caribbean region can be made securely online at sar.my/amappeal 

From reports by Maike Bennema and Samuel Shearer
International Emergency Services

Photos of the rebuilding work on Sint Maarten can be downloaded from the IHQ Flickr stream: sar.my/sintmaartenmar18

The Salvation Army provided 457 nights of shelter to 13 families and seven single people. Seven households found permanent housing.

New approach for Salvation Army to help with homelessness issues

KANKAKEE — “We’ve got almost two pages of notebook paper where my wife and I have written down phone numbers. I’ve highlighted in certain colors, so we know which landlords we’ve called, which ones we’ve talked to, where we’ve left messages.”

“And the one that you like, I got a call from them today.”

In the downtown Kankakee offices of The Salvation Army, Pam Curtis is house-searching. Curtis, 29, has been homeless for a little over a year, sleeping outside, in abandoned buildings and intermittently at The Salvation Army women’s shelter. Now she’s participating in the new rapid re-housing program, using The Salvation Army’s resources to find a permanent place to stay.

When the men’s shelter closed in July and the women’s shelter followed soon after, there was concern that people like Curtis would be left in the cold.

“Part of the challenge is that we need to get the message out,” said Salvation Army Maj. Nic Montgomery, who runs the Kankakee Salvation Army with his wife, Jodi. “We are not closed. We are open, and we’re serving.”

Now The Salvation Army wants to inform the public of its new plan, which involves a new approach to homelessness passed down from the federal government to social services organizations across the country.

Getting a feel for ‘housing first’

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development now recommends a “housing first” approach to homelessness. Housing first reverses the traditional approach to helping the homeless. Instead of moving someone through the system — first to a shelter, then maybe to supportive living before finally finding permanent housing — housing first prioritizes permanent housing over other interventions.

“There were studies done that show on-site housing is not the answer; and that’s why HUD has changed its focus, because putting someone in shelter for 30, 60, 90 days, we didn’t do anything,” said Jodi Montgomery. “We just let someone stay there and then told them to go be homeless somewhere else.”

Accordingly, HUD has moved away from shelter programs. The Salvation Army practices rapid re-housing, a subset of housing first that, according to HUD, “connects families and individuals experiencing homelessness to permanent housing through a tailored package of assistance that may include the use of time-limited financial assistance and targeted supportive services.”

Research backs up the new approach. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, between 75 and 91 percent of households that go through a rapid re-housing program remain housed a year later. A study of 6,000 rapidly re-housed people in Michigan showed that two years after receiving assistance, only 6.5 percent of people returned to homelessness, the majority of which were single men and not families.

That’s why Curtis, her wife of seven years, and their daughter are on the hunt for a new place. They’ve partnered with Natasha Elliott, director of social ministries, who is currently the only caseworker for rapid re-housing.

“Even though the shelter is closed, they’re indirectly providing shelter for everybody,” said Curtis. “Even though they don’t have the shelter upstairs, at the same time the people who were upstairs and are now out there, they’re doing their best to get us off the streets. Unfortunately they had to send us back out there. Now they’re trying to get everything wrapped up and together so (Elliott) can turn around and get everyone back she already helped.”

When someone calls The Salvation Army for assistance, they’re evaluated for vulnerability. Those who are determined to be “literally homeless” (sleeping in places not designed for human habitation) are given a shelter-voucher, which they use to stay in a local motel during the housing search process. The goal is to transition people out of the motels in a timely fashion, while helping them with the housing search and connecting them with services like employment assistance and mental health counseling.

No shortage of need

 In November alone, The Salvation Army provided 457 nights of shelter to 13 families and seven single people. Seven households found permanent housing. An annual “point in time” count of homeless people in Kankakee this past January found 38 people sleeping on the streets and another 53 were being sheltered through an agency.

“We try to figure out a few things,” Elliott said of the housing search. “First, the size of the unit that they want, if the household has a lot of income or only a little income, what’s a good rent amount for the family. Then on my own I look for different landlords who are willing to work with us, and they also look for landlords.”

Charitable organizations, social service providers, and local schools and hospitals coordinate through the local Continuum of Care, a group that meets monthly with the goal of reducing homelessness and supporting vulnerable community members. The move toward a housing-first model has been a challenge for the group.

“It’s somewhat imposed upon us. I don’t know that anybody decided this is how we wanted to run our programs,” said Sarah Neil, chairperson of the COC and director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet. “It’s definitely a shift in funding priorities. A lot of times programs have to follow the funding and go where the money is.”

Funding has been a concern for The Salvation Army specifically. United Way of Kankakee, which had been funding a large percentage of shelter operations, ended that support in December after the shelters closed.

The Salvation Army in Chicago, USA, is making an impact on inmates in a city jail by helping fathers build better relationships with their children and co-parents.

Army’s fatherhood program now offered to inmates in the US

The Salvation Army in Chicago, USA, is making an impact on inmates in a city jail by helping fathers build better relationships with their children and co-parents.

The Fatherhood in Action program was recently introduced to the Cook County Jail, the largest single-site jail in the US, dealing with issues related to building family relationships during and after release.

The program is completely voluntary and open to most inmates. Twice a week during an eight-week session, the men meet with their peer group and two facilitators to focus on responsible parenting, healthy relationships, financial education, and wellness.

According to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, the program is making a difference in the lives of their inmates.

“This program is so impactful because the men know we care,” said Janet De La Torre, Communications Liaison in the Policy and Communications department. “Most of them feel nobody has taken an interest in them before.”

At one meeting, men in the group discussed milestones and road maps for their lives. They identified the times and situations that have impacted them so far. This could include vacations, birthdays, school detentions, deaths, and more. They then drew these points on their maps and shared them.

“We are looking over our past so we can learn from our experiences and identify patterns,” said Derrick White, facilitator of the Fatherhood in Action program (pictured below).

“Does anything need to be changed to make it safe for your children? You need to take your past pain and transform it – make it a stepping stone to a better future.”

The non-judgmental atmosphere allows the men to look at their lives, and how their choices affect their children and the relationship with the family. For many of them, they’re learning for the first time how to be adults and parents.

“I’m working on being patient,” said inmate Lucas Kardon, who has a five-year-old son. “When you have a little kid, you have to listen too.”

Another inmate, Darryl Paige, has three young children and he’s working on being a leader. “My kids watch me. I have to set an example for them. I have to be supportive and understanding. I don’t want them to end up here.”

The program has been so successful that Sheriff Dart has requested several more sessions.

The program has already been introduced in other facilities in the Chicago area, including the Harbor Light Center, the Adult Rehabilitation Centers, and the Pathway Forward community-based corrections program.

I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise.

Solidier On

I heard the gospel because a Salvation Army corps sergeant-major kept his promise. I started drinking on weekends when I was 12. A few years later, it was several times a week. Then it became daily. By the time I was 30, I was smoking three packs of cigarettes and drinking a bottle of vodka every day.

I had always promised my kids I would stay sober on Christmas Day. But in 1983, just before my 38th birthday, I didn’t. I got to thinking if I couldn’t stay sober one day a year, maybe I had a problem.

When a friend suggested I go to church with him, I said no. I’d never been in a church, other than for weddings and funerals. But I said I would maybe go to The Salvation Army. He asked the corps sergeant-major at Lloydminster Corps, Alta., Elmo King, to call me. I told Elmo if he was standing on the street when I drove by on Sunday, I’d come in.

He was there. That morning, I heard the gospel for the first time in my life.

After the meeting, Elmo invited me out for lunch. Why not?—a free meal, I thought. He told me all about Christ and asked if I wanted to accept him into my heart. I said no.

But I kept thinking about what he’d said. Later that afternoon, a feeling came over me. I went into my bedroom and prayed. Jesus, if you are who Elmo says you are, and if you can do what he says, then come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.

At 3 p.m. on January 15, 1984, I became a Christian. That night, I went to the evening meeting and publicly accepted Christ during the altar call.

“Jesus,” I prayed, “come into my heart and take over my life, because I can’t do it anymore.”

I never had another drink, and quit smoking the next week. Three months later, I became a senior soldier.

When I retired after 30 years as a truck driver, I went into full-time service for the Army, working as an envoy in Nelson, B.C., until my health declined. I’ve had eight heart attacks.

In 2004, after my fifth heart attack, doctors gave me a five per cent chance of surviving open-heart surgery. But we prayed and I came through.

As a volunteer with emergency and disaster services, I was called to go to Calgary to help after the floods, but found out I couldn’t work in a crisis response unit while on oxygen. If God wants me to go, he can do something about it, I thought. I’d been on oxygen for six years, but on the way to Calgary, I took it off, and haven’t needed it since then. I believe God healed me so I could do his will.

I’ve been a volunteer with our community care ministries here in Swift Current, Sask., for the past 14 years, and I try to support our officers in any way I can.

My relationship with Christ has grown over time. When someone asks me about my faith, I tell them my story, and to give God a try—they won’t be sorry.

The Virtues of Volunteerism – We are a Volunteer Army

At the height of Victorian England’s volunteer movement in 1878, William Booth dictated a letter to George Scott Railton, his secretary. When Booth said, “We are a volunteer army,” Bramwell, Booth’s son, responded, “Volunteer? I’m no volunteer, I’m a regular!” William Booth then instructed Railton to delete the word volunteer and substitute it with the word salvation. Thus, “The Salvation Army” name was born.

Today, the Army’s “regulars” are called “officers” (pastors). They wear iconic blue uniforms with star–studded epaulettes on their shoulders.


However, behind every officer are faithful, hardworking volunteers. Often referred to as “The Army Behind the Army,” volunteers play a crucial role in the Army’s ability to provide quality social services for entire communities.

Volunteers are valuable assets in the Army’s effort to meet the world’s changing needs. Through their skills and experience, they make significant contributions by positively influencing lives. Such volunteers uplift families and communities.

One of the Army’s most memorable volunteer movements occurred in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. They came from far and wide and lined up by the hundreds, seeking an opportunity to put their time, energy, and resources toward rebuilding the American morale and spirit.

The following examples illustrate how, for many of these volunteers, their patriotism proved life–changing.


During a dedication ceremony of the National September 11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan, images flashed on a massive screen in a great subterranean hall showing men and women at work at Ground Zero’s “Taj Mahal” (the Salvation Army tent so named by the workers).

Also pictured were Army volunteers, writing prayers on battered beams of steel, counseling survivors, offering water, sandwiches, coffee, and words of comfort. Bright red Salvation Army shields affixed to white windbreaker jackets and construction worker hardhats clearly distinguished them.

Just a few days prior to the actual dedication ceremony, hundreds of Salvation Army volunteers previewed the museum in response to a letter of invitation extended to them by the Museum Foundation via the Greater New York Division.

Kelly–Jane Cotter from central New Jersey, reflected on her visit to the museum. “One of the artifacts I most appreciated seeing was the Ground Zero Cross,” she wrote in myCentraljersey.com, “which I vividly remembered from my time as a volunteer with The Salvation Army. Yet while visiting the museum, I walked right past the 17–foot crossbeam. My mind was reeling, my eyes were filled with tears, and I simply couldn’t see it until I noticed some firefighters aiming their cameras upward.”

Tanya Hoggard, a Cincinnati–based flight attendant, had rearranged her schedule to volunteer with The Salvation Army. She came to realize that children from around the country wanted their messages of thanks and hope to reach the firefighters and rescue workers at Ground Zero.

Through friendships forged with firefighters who visited the Taj Mahal for coffee, conversation, and snacks, Hoggard learned that firehouses throughout New York City were receiving mail bags containing warm wishes from children—sometimes attached to stuffed animals, candy, murals, flags, and quilts. These expressions of love and gratitude proved overwhelming.

Hoggard thought, Why don’t I collect and safeguard these touching expressions? With permission, she archived the materials. Her resulting “Dear Hero Collection” is now on display at the museum.

For Sam Potter, Oklahoma’s disaster relief director, the preview day was an emotional one. He had spent a total of 39 days in Lower Manhattan, providing relief in the wake of the attacks. At that time, disaster relief chaplaincy was in its infancy and was yet to be organized nationally. However, the Oklahoma team carried with them the experiences of ministering to people devastated by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.

“I think the biggest thing about the museum is that it truly tells the whole story of what happened that 9/11,” Porter wrote for “theCatholicspirit.com,” an online newspaper.

Jennifer Adams–Webb volunteered in the aftermath of 9/11 for The Salvation Army. She had worked in World Trade Tower One for several years prior to the attack. Today, she is chief executive officer of the September 11th Families’ Association and co–founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center.

Jim Daly, another volunteer, had watched on TV and in horror as the World Trade Center’s twin towers fell.

This parishioner of St. John in Little Canada continues to reflect on time spent as a volunteer at Ground Zero in January 2002. His thoughts are expressed in articles written about him in publications and periodicals.

After answering the Army’s call for volunteers, Daly found himself at Ground Zero staring into “the pit,” a hole the size of a football field, where construction workers, police officers, and firefighters continued to unearth human remains four months after the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people.

When asked by a reporter how the experience affected him, Daly paused for a moment, then said, “I have an appreciation for every day when I watch the sun come up. I think [the experience] probably just strengthened that.”