Salvation Army Martinsville bell ringers just want to give back

Salvation Army Martinsville bell ringers just want to give back

The Salvation Army Martinsville Corps has helped Steven and Diane Yohn in hard times, and now they want to give back by volunteering as bell ringers.

“I don’t want to be paid. We really need volunteers,” Diane Yohn, 66, said Friday as she stood ringing a bell near one of the main entrances at Walmart in Martinsville.

At another store entrance with bell in hand was Steven, 66, seated in a walker next to a red kettle.

 “For the last few years they’ve helped us, and this is the least we can do to thank them,” he said.

This is their third year ringing a bell for the local Salvation Army branch.

“I’m always happy to help the Salvation Army. They helped me and my husband through hard times,” Diane said. “They were there for us. This is the least we could do.”

The Yohns also at times have eaten at the Salvation Army’s regular meals on multiple days of the week, she said.

“Last year, if it wasn’t for the Salvation Army, we wouldn’t have had a Christmas dinner or a Thanksgiving dinner,” Diane said.

In addition, the Salvation Army kept the Yohns’ electric power on when they couldn’t pay a nearly $300 power bill,

“It just felt great for somebody to care, as they do,” Diane said “They’re out there feeding people…. They have the angel tree that helps the children that ain’t going to have a Christmas.”

The couple knows how rough finances can be for someone living on a fixed income.

“It’s a little rough for me and my husband because you get one check a month,” Diane said Steven is a retired truck driver and she worked as an office cleaner.

Diane is borderline diabetic and has a learning disability.

Said Steven of his ailments: “I’ve had 12 heart attacks. I died 12 times and they brought me back.”

He added that he sees people in need of help and he and his wife feel the need to give back.

“God has been great to my wife and me, and now since He has been good to me, I can be good to other people,” Steven said.

Steven said he enjoys bell ringing and encountering people.

Steven described the touching moments he’s witnessed as a bell ringer, such as the time a mother gave each of her children five pennies to put in the kettle, and then she put in $5.

“Tears came to my eyes, because I see them little kids. That’s the future of the churches and the future of our country,” Steven said.

Another time recently, Steven said, it was cold and a woman came up and asked if he drank coffee. He told her yes.

She then left and, roughly 10 minutes later, returned with a double cheeseburger and a cup of coffee.

“I’ve had people in the past come up and give us doughnuts and coffee and stuff like that,” Steven said. “The (bell-ringing) locations we’ve been to, workers and management would bring us stuff,” Steven said.

Lt. George Keith of the Salvation Army Martinsville Corps said the kettle campaign goal is $60,000, and donations are lagging.

Also, more bell-ringers are needed.

“We have two weeks left of our kettle campaign,” Keith said.

Anyone interested in ringing the bell can call 276-638-7259.

On October 10, 2018, hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the United States, ripped through the Florida Panhandle.

Life After The Storm

On October 10, 2018, hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever make landfall in the United States, ripped through the Florida Panhandle. A violent Category 4 storm, Michael pounded Panama City, Fla., and surrounding areas. The eye was 105 kilometres wide, winds were at 225 km/h and 1,000 tornadoes peeled back the landscape of what was once known as the Emerald Coast. The result was utter devastation and an estimated loss of $414 billion. It could take 15 years for the area to return to “normal.”

“So many lives have been changed forever,” says Florida Governor Rick Scott. “So many families have lost everything. This hurricane was an absolute monster.” Tens of thousands of homes were unlivable, businesses were turned into piles of splintered lumber, and gas stations and strip malls were crumpled. Entire roofs were torn away, trees were severed in two, and the widespread and catastrophic damage made the city unrecognizable to local residents.

Three weeks after Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle, I was deployed for 14 days to Panama City with a 12-member incident management team from the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s emergency disaster services. While residents coped with destruction and devastation, we oversaw operations, communicated with media outlets and ensured the delivery of hot meals, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, tarps, and emotional and spiritual care. At the height of deployment, 20 canteens were feeding 12,000 people a day.

Perseverance

As our team’s public information officer, my role was to communicate to the public and to The Salvation Army about the state of operations and how we were supporting those affected by the storm.  As I travelled to canteen locations that were serving hot meals, delivered backpacks to children and teachers at a local school, and made home visits to check on peoples’ well-being, I heard frightening stories of riding out the storm, saw so much of what people had lost, and watched in awe as they persevered in the midst of immense destruction. But even in the midst of their pain and extreme heartache, their warmth, resilience and positivity was incredible. They had lost homes, livelihoods and their lives were literally turned upside down, yet they greeted me with friendly smiles and grateful words.

“We were seven huddled together in the bathroom―the best safe room with one door and no windows,” says Jolynn, whose home was severely damaged by the hurricane. “When we heard the wind pull up the roof and drop it down many times we thought we were going to die. We heard trees cracking. Then suddenly three quarters of the roof ripped away from the house. We were under one big skylight.”

“When the eye of the storm came through, I held tight to my husband in a hallway,” explains Sherri as she tells me about her experience with Michael. “We felt the walls of our home breathe like lungs. A 6,000-pound maple tree crashed down on the side of our house. We were trapped in our collapsing home and convinced we wouldn’t get out alive.” Sherri and her husband, Rick, are now living in their camper in the driveway in front of their destroyed home.

A Tiny Light

“What can we do?” asked Lieutenant Stefan Reid, corps officer at Vernon Community Church in the British Columbia Division and our team’s planning chief, when he stumbled upon a little white church that was only half standing. “We need food. I can’t keep going,” replied Karen, the pastor’s wife. In the three weeks since the hurricane, she and her husband, Eddie, and two volunteers, had been serving 100 people a day out of four crockpots.

“There were tarps over the building and no electricity,” Lieutenant Reid explains. “In the back of the fellowship hall, with insulation falling and wires exposed, people affected by the hurricane were getting non-perishables, simple supplies, bedding, clothing and blankets.”

Calloway is a low-income neighbourhood located nine kilometres from Panama City. Most of the 150 residents couldn’t evacuate due to lack of transportation and all were left with significant damage or mobile homes that were completely destroyed. The only shelter for many were the tarps that hung everywhere.

While our team was initially overwhelmed by the extent of destruction and the demand for services, it was a privilege to bring relief and a glimmer of hope to those we were called to serve.

“We all wanted to stay and keep giving until we couldn’t give any more,” concludes Lieutenant Reid. “The Salvation Army was a tiny light in the midst of the storm.”

Article contributed by Linda Leigh is the staff writer in the territorial public relations and development department.

After becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age, R&B artist Kem, was living homeless on the streets of Detroit. Salvation Army ARC, which he

R&B artist Kem defeats addiction with help from Salvation Army ARC

After becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol at a young age, R&B artist Kem, was living homeless on the streets of Detroit. He was going from shelter to shelter until he had his first experience with a Salvation Army ARC, which he claims as a turning point in his life.

I am the eldest child with three sisters, born in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve never met my biological father. My stepfather has been in my life since I was three years-old. When I was four we moved to the metropolitan Detroit area. First, we lived in Pontiac for about 10 years and then we moved to Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Both my parents worked, but we didn’t know our parents were struggling. We had both parents in the home, always had enough to eat and at Christmas always had presents, toys stacked to the ceiling. In many ways, we had a normal family dynamic.

We left Pontiac my freshman year of high school for Southfield—quite a culture shock. We were one of the first African American families on our street. There was a large Jewish community and there still is. I delivered papers throughout the community and became very familiar with a lot of the Jewish traditions. We went from living in a blue-collar community to a suburban lifestyle. I was really out of my element. The kids and families in Southfield had experiences that we didn’t have. They had seen more, experienced more. I was like a fish out of water.

I was also starting to come into being a teenager and a lot of things happened to me that set the stage for me to try to find solace in alcohol and drugs. What I discovered about myself later was that as a child I was probably clinically depressed. Because I lacked better coping skills I started using alcohol and drugs. Alcoholism is something that is present on both sides of my family: my mom is a recovering alcoholic. She went into treatment and my parents learned new tools and developed a healthier way of living.

I was just beginning full-blown drug and alcohol addiction. I could no longer be a part of my family dynamic, at least not in the house. They were trying to become the best versions of themselves and my behavior and addiction were impediments. So, I left home at the age of 19 and began my downward spiral into homelessness and addiction. I flopped around the neighborhood for a while, different friends’ houses. My friends would sneak me in and let me stay the night. I continued to drink and use drugs.

My first experience with the Salvation Army ARC (Adult Rehabilitation Center) was in Pontiac. I initially went to get off the streets. Any recovery would have been just a by-product, but I was eventually discharged for using. I went to the classes they had there. I would go for periods of time and not drink. But I was always using something and not fully coming to terms with my addiction or with what it would take to overcome it. I learned some things but I was not yet ready to get sober.

After that I went to the Salvation Army ARC in Detroit. I was discharged from there for drinking.I spent some time on the streets. I went back to that ARC after having spent the hardest week of homelessness. I was pretty beat up. I was sleeping outside on the Detroit River, on the eve of my biological birthday, when I surrendered. I didn’t know at that time that’s what happened. I gave up trying to do things my way. I became open to what ideas and suggestions that people had. I was willing to do whatever was necessary to facilitate change in my life.

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Wintry weather brings Christmas spirit during Red Kettle Campaign launch

Wintry weather brings Christmas spirit during Red Kettle Campaign launch

Snowy weather on Thursday closed schools and government offices, but it didn’t stop the local Salvation Army from holding its annual Red Kettle Campaign kickoff at Apple Blossom Mall.

About 20 people attended the event — a smaller crowd than usual — which Salvation Army Capt. Kelly Durant attributed to the weather.

Berryville Mayor Patricia Dickinson, who was slated to be the keynote speaker, was unable to attend due to the hazardous road conditions. Still, Durant was able to find a silver lining in the season’s first snowfall.

“It kind of makes it more exciting,” Durant said. “It gets the early Christmas spirit going. It’s a winter wonderland already.”

The Red Kettle fundraising campaign runs until Dec. 24. It involves volunteers ringing a bell and soliciting donations at numerous locations around the community from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday (no Sundays). Shifts tend to last four to eight hours.

This year, Red Kettles and bell ringers will be stationed at Apple Blossom Mall, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Big Lots and the Shop ‘n Save in Berryville. The Shop ‘n Save stores in Winchester and Frederick County recently closed.

The Salvation Army hopes to raise $140,000 this year. Last year, its campaign fell nearly $18,000 short of its $150,000 goal.

“We are disappointingly probably going to make less because we lost five locations of Shop ‘n Save,” Durant said. “But we are still going to work and do our best to raise about $140,000.”

The Salvation Army currently has 60 bell ringers, but it could use about 40 more.

Money raised during the campaign will serve families in Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties who are in need of food, temporary housing and other assistance.

The Salvation Army has a homeless shelter at 300 Fort Collier Road with 48 beds. The shelter serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Tara McInturff, director of marketing for Apple Blossom Mall, commended the Salvation Army during the kickoff.

“It really shows the Salvation Army’s dedication to our community that they continue to hold this event on this snowy and icy day,” McInturff said. “They are truly here for our community.”

During the kickoff, the Salvation Army Brass Band of the National Capital Area played Christmas carols such as “Silver Bells” and “Jingle Bells” while those in attendance rang small handheld bells.

Later today, Apple Blossom Mall plans to set up a tree for the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Angel Tree program, which provides holiday gifts to local children.

People who want to purchase presents for a child at Christmas can select an angel-shaped tag from one of the Christmas trees that will be placed in public locations throughout the Winchester area. The angel will contain information about the child, such as name, age and Christmas wish list. People can buy gifts for the Angel Tree program until Dec. 20. The gifts will be brought to a distribution center, where they will be ready for pick up before Christmas.

Families who want to register their children for gifts through the Angel Tree program still have time, as the Salvation Army extended the registration deadline until 3 p.m. Sunday. Registration must be done in person at 300 Fort Collier Road.

When registering for the program, parents or caregivers must bring a valid photo ID, passport or consulate card to identify themselves. They must also provide proof of residence, proof of income, and birth certificates of all children (up to age 12) being registered, as well as custody or guardianship papers if the applicant is not the biological parent. Expecting mothers will need to a due date document from a physician if their child will be born before Dec. 25.

For more information, visit the Salvation Army’s website at virginiasalvationarmy.org/winchestervacorps or call 540-662-4777.

Emergency Disaster Personnel Worship Before Serving

Emergency Disaster Personnel Worship Before Serving

On Sunday morning, 38 of those people gathered to worship in Apalachicola before going out to serve those in need. Without chairs, people lined the bottom bleacher or stood in the old gym which has been converted into a community center. The pulpit was made by two boxes with a blanket over them. An offering was taken for Hurricane Michael.

The Salvation Army is serving those affected by Hurricane Michael in the Florida panhandle. Hundreds of personnel including officers, employees, and volunteers are deployed across multiple counties providing food, hydration, emotional and spiritual care as well as providing much-needed supplies.

On this Sunday, Captain Jason Perdieu shared these reminders, “Walls will not define us. Wherever we are, we are the church. We are here for such a time as this.” Major David Luft and Major Nelson De La Vergne led the worship service. Major De La Vergne opened the service with an object lesson in an optical illusion. It appeared he tore a piece of paper apart, representing all the messes we as humans make. God takes those many pieces and then burns them with the Holy Spirit to make us complete again. As the story concludes, the piece of paper is whole again.

Major Luft led the group in song with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and began his sermon with Mark 4:35-40 (BLB) where Jesus rebuked the wind and sea. He asked the disciples “Why are you so fearful?  How is it that you have no faith?” As everyone in the service is working with people affected by Hurricane Michael, the passages were especially meaningful.

The service was closed by one of the Emotional and Spiritual Care Specialists sharing the words to Casting Crowns’ “I’ll Praise You in the Storm.” The lyrics reminded everyone there The Salvation Army is ministering to Others in His name to those whose hearts are torn, yet still praising Him during the storm in their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Since shortly after the hurricane hit on October 10, one of serval Incident Management teams has been based in Apalachicola serving Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties. The Salvation Army remains committed to serving those whose lives have been forever changed.

“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,”

I Trusted God through the Whole Storm

“I trusted God through the whole storm and He has a plan for me, so I’m not afraid of the future. We’re just exhausted from the emotions,” she said.

Nestled along the St. Andrews Bay, is the historic neighborhood of St. Andrews, known for its quaint shops and home to free-spirited locals, like Joan “GG” Canal.

Still reeling two weeks after Hurricane Michael, debris from buildings and trees line the streets of St. Andrews. GG was cleaning out her vintage boutique that was heavily damaged by the storm, when Salvation Army Major Clarine Meitrott stopped by with a hot lunch and words of support.

“The amount of love from people like you with something like a warm meal is contagious,” GG said with tears in her eyes. “I hope the spirit lives on here in St. Andrews; the spirit of love that got us through the storm and is getting us through each day right now.”

Major Meitrott is among a team of Salvation Army officers from the US and Canada who are providing emotional and spiritual care to hurricane survivors like GG throughout the Panama City area.  The two women spoke at length and prayed together on the sidewalk in front of GG’s shop.

Although it would be some time before her business reopens, GG remains optimistic about life. She shares her messages of hope with the community through the words painted on signs in front of her store. One simply reads, “We will rebuild.” And on the plywood used to board up her broken store windows, she painted, “Psalm 57:1.” (Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed.)

“We’re glad we are still standing and give God all the glory, praise and honor due Him,” GG said.

Since Hurricane Michael made landfall, The Salvation Army has made 26,916 emotional and spiritual care contacts with survivors, a vital service in catastrophic events. Not all impacts of natural disasters are visible.  The Salvation Army addresses the stress of disaster survivors and first responders with emotional support and spiritual care.  Whether it’s lending a listening ear, offering a hug, joining together in prayer, or simply being present, providing spiritual comfort is the heart of The Salvation Army’s mission.

Dr. Elizabeth Blount is a local veterinarian in Tallahassee as well as a volunteer with TDI, which is a volunteer-based organization that provides therapy

Tallahassee Veterinarian Sharing in Salvation Army’s Ministry of Comfort

Dr. Elizabeth Blount is a local veterinarian in Tallahassee as well as a volunteer with TDI, which is a volunteer-based organization that provides therapy dogs to individuals in vulnerable situations such as disasters, hospitals, and nursing homes.

Emotional and spiritual care is a unique and valued component of The Salvation Army’s emergency response. In times of crisis, The Salvation Army utilizes trained personnel to provide comfort to rescue workers and disaster survivors.

The Salvation Army is partnering with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) to support serving people impacted by Hurricane Michael, including displaced families and first responders from the Florida State Emergency Response Team (SERT) in Tallahassee.

After receiving an email requesting therapy dogs to support The Salvation Army’s Incident Command service area for Tallahassee, Dr. Blount had a personal incentive to support this emergency response with her therapy dogs, golden retrievers Gabriel and Molly.

Dr. Blount was one of the many individuals who lost her home after Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys last year. The Category 4 hurricane flooded her home with over 3 feet of water, roofs were torn off, and buildings were demolished. While Dr. Blount and her neighbors were outside rummaging through the debris for their personal belongings, a Salvation Army mobile feeding unit made its way through the wreckage.

“The mobile unit came down the street and stopped at every single house, greeted us, handed us a hot meal, and told us they loved us. It was literally enough to make us cry,” said Dr. Blount. “Not only were we desperate for a meal and water but just for somebody to say hey, we care…it made all the difference.”

Solace can come from a hot meal, a hug from a furry friend, or the caring presence of The Salvation Army’s staff and volunteers. As of October 16, The Salvation Army has provided emotional and spiritual care to 7,000 survivors and first responders impacted by Hurricane Michael in Florida.

 

To help support the disaster relief work of The Salvation Army, donations can be made at www.HelpSalvationArmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, by texting STORM to 51555, or by check (designated “2018 Hurricane Season – Michael”) mailed to PO Box 1959, Atlanta, GA 30301.

Bainbridge is a small town neatly nestled in the southwestern corner of the state of Georgia just over the Alabama and Florida state lines.

The Salvation Army Helps Hispanic Community Seeking Shelter in Bainbridge, GA

Bainbridge is a small town neatly nestled in the southwestern corner of the state of Georgia just over the Alabama and Florida state lines. It was first settled as a small trading post in the late 18th century. Residents are rightly proud of their little corner of Georgia, and will quickly remind you it’s the hometown of Georgia Bulldog Head Coach Kirby Smart.

Life is fairly laid back in Bainbridge. But, that all changed when Michael arrived hurling winds of 120 miles per hour down against the quite little town.

“Bainbridge was never seen anything like this before,” said Maria Diaz, a resident since 1999. “The last time anything close to this happened here was back in 1851.”

Bearing testimony to Maria’s statement, countless 100-year-old-plus live oak trees, that once graced the town, are now strewn across streets and lawns, and lay toppled over homes and businesses.

Many of the largest and most beautiful trees in Bainbridge are now either gone or severely disfigured. Waves and swaths of live oak leaves stripped from their branches by hurricane-force winds still swirl in the narrower back streets, like dark green glitter tinged with a smattering of road dust. Unripen acorns wretched from parental trees easily crunch underfoot at every step.

A few miles south of town, and a stone’s throw from Tallahassee Highway, almost 100 men, women and children huddled together inside the United Methodist Hispanic Hispanic Mission seeking shelter from the rages of Hurricane Michael, not knowing the fate of their clustered trailer-homes just over the tree line. Their fear grew in intensity as the raging storm winds increased and pressed trees down to their breaking point. At the height of the storm, the little group of gathered families huddled together in prayer for thirty minutes in the center of the chapel. At midnight, the power went out.

Local congregation leader, Jamie Gallaga, earlier pleaded with the little Hispanic community to shelter in the church from the storm. Much to Mr. Gallaga’s relief, they listened. Gallaga grew up on the Mexican Gulf Coast and shared his frightening personal experiences of what hurricane force winds could do. Although Gallaga is not an ordained pastor, its not important to the little Hispanic community. He took up care for the little Hispanic flock when the pastor assigned to the church was delayed by governmental red tape over a year ago, and they won’t forget his unfailing love and dedication to them.

“I’m glad they listened,” says Gallaga with tears in his eyes, “I can’t image what I would do if anything happened to one of these little ones,” he adds, as children run laughing, playing and chasing each other around the inside of the chapel.

The women and children stay at the Hispanic Mission Church during the day while the men go back to their devastated neighborhood to do what repairs they can. One man lost his trailer-home where he and his five children were living. He lost his wife a few years ago, and now must maintain his strength for his family to make it through yet another tragedy.

Gallaga’s step-son’s house is destroyed — crushed under numerous fallen trees. And two trees crashed through Gallaga’s home, too. “I’m not going to worry about my home or going back to work until the congregation is taken care of and none of them need to stay here anymore,” says Gallaga resolutely.

Just then, one of the best mobile kitchen units in The Salvation Army Georgia Division 21-canteen fleet from Elberton, GA, slowly navigates the turn into the driveway of the church—within a short time it is set up and ready to serve lunch.

Behind the serving window is 2016 Salvation Army Southern Territory Volunteer of the Year, Joe Johnson, now approaching 30 years of volunteer service. “I love doing this,” Johnson says, as a gaggle of pre-teen girls skip up to the canteen followed closely by their moms and younger siblings. “Hot dogs!” they exclaim excitedly.

“I don’t have words to express how much it means for you to help us like this,” says Gallaga.

“That’s what we do – helping people in their time of need,” says Johnson. “We’re with you, and we won’t leave Bainbridge, or the little Hispanic Mission, either, until all in need are served and safe.”

Michael is an intense category 4 hurricane — the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Florida panhandle. After slamming ashore,

The Salvation Army of Georgia Readies as Michael Slams Florida Panhandle

Michael is an intense category 4 hurricane — the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Florida panhandle. After slamming ashore, Michael is expected to continue northeast as a category 2 hurricane, raging through Southern Georgia across Bainbridge, Thomasville and Savannah with weather unlike anything they have seen before.

Salvation Army mobile feeding units (canteens) and other resources from across the southern U.S. are stationed to quickly provide feeding, hydration and emotional and spiritual care throughout impacted areas.

“Hurricane Michael is a powerful storm,” Says Major Charles Powell, Divisional Commander for The Salvation Army of Georgia. “We are ready and poised to minister in the name of Jesus to those who are hurting — to be there for them in their time of need. We want to be a ray of light in their time of darkness that brings peace to their minds and hearts.”

In Georgia, twenty-one canteens stand ready to deploy to areas affected in Georgia. A Salvation Army Incident Management Team (IMT) monitors the storm progress and impact from their operations center located in The Salvation Army’s Divisional Headquarters building Atlanta, Georgia. From this location, The Salvation Army of Georgia can coordinate and communicate with Salvation Army locations and resources across the state, and with state and local officials in efforts to respond effectively where resources are needed most. The current focus centers on the 108 counties in South Georgia placed under a state of emergency by Governor Nathan Deal.

“We continue to assess and evaluate the situation,” says Captain Erik Henry, Incident Commander for the Georgia Incident Management Team, “Once we see exactly how the storm impacts our state, we will be able to redeploy our resources as needed to help those in the most severely affected areas.”

The Salvation Army of Georgia is already in action providing drinks and meals in key locations for first responders, evacuees and those seeking help including; Albany, Americus, Augusta, Douglas, Dublin, Macon, Tifton and Thomasville. Many other locations are on standby ready to respond when needed

The best way to help survivors and relief workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.

New Bern Corps, North Carolina held worship this morning. The band played ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness

Worship in the midst of a storm

New Bern Corps, North Carolina held worship this morning. The band played ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’, hymns were sung, a message was delivered, scripture was read. The meeting was much like any other Salvation Army meeting in the more than 14,000 Salvation Army worship locations all over the world.

This worship meeting, however, was not like any other. It was held in a donated space hastily set up for the service. White plastic chairs replaced upholstered pews. The backdrop to the pulpit was a curtain of white pipe and drape. Instead of worshipping in the church that stood for generations, 45 people came to an unfamiliar building to praise God.

The worshippers were full of joy and thanksgiving despite the destruction Hurricane Florence brought to the second oldest town in North Carolina.

During and immediately after Hurricane Florence, New Bern saw more than ten feet (over three meters) of storm surge and flooding when the Neuse and Trent rivers rose dramatically in hours. Almost a foot of rain fell in the area, creating even more flooding. More than 450 of the 30,000 residents of New Bern had to be rescued. The Salvation Army corps building in New Bern still stood but took on two-plus feet of water. Much of the building was heavily damaged in the storm, but the three crosses in front of the church stood firm.

‘That building was just brick and mortar. It was just a building. The building is NOT the Army. We are the Army. You are the Army. And we, as the Army, have work to do!’ said corps officer Captain Curtis Kratz, in his sermon.

Since the storm hit New Bern, The Salvation Army has been at work. Feeding people. Giving hope through outdoor meetings. Being a helping hand in a storm-ravaged community. Since before the storm hit, more than 11,000 meals have been served to first responders and people impacted by the storm. More than 360 people have received prayers and words of encouragement from Salvation Army pastors.

In the coming weeks, the shock from the storm will wear off. Families will have to figure out a new plan. And The Salvation Army will be there, working alongside the community to rebuild.