Last year, more than 260,000 kids attended a summer or day camp with The Salvation Army, primarily at one of its 44 camps across the U.S. This is just one account of a life impacted at summer camp. Camp is about giving kids hope—a new perspective about who they are and what they can do in this world. I made up an acronym to clarify my vision: Helping Obscured Potential Emerge. With God’s help we encourage kids to see that they have unlimited potential in this world.

I’ll never forget an 8-year-old girl with a disfigured face who came to camp. During my first chapel I told the kids, “God loves you” and “God thinks you’re beautiful.”

Afterward, the girl came up to me and said, “God doesn’t love me.”

“Why do you think that? I asked.

“Because I’m ugly,” she said. “Even my family says I’m ugly.”

My heart was sad, but I smiled and said, “You know what? I know God loves you. He says he does, and God never lies. God does think you’re beautiful. And so, do I.”

She shrugged and walked away.

At the final chapel of the week, we told the kids they could come up and speak to God about becoming part of his family. This little girl was one of many who spent time talking to God and receiving Jesus in his or her heart. We asked the campers to tell someone right away about what they did, so I went outside to wait for them to share with me.

One of the last kids out was this girl. She came over to me and said, “You know what?”


“God loves me,” she said.

“I know,” I said, and we high-fived.

She turned and started to go, then stopped and turned around.

“You know what else?”

“No, what?”

“God thinks I’m beautiful!” She gave me a hug, turned and ran off.

Hope? New perspective? Yep, we can do that.  Amen.

= = =

From Caring, a publication of The Salvation Army that is dedicated to helping you do good right where you are.

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.

The Salvation Army is opening a new, 24-hour shelter for survivors of human trafficking, a resource the charity is billing as the first of its kind

Salvation Army National Capital Area Command Opens Shelter to Serve Human Trafficking Survivors

The Salvation Army National Capital Area Command is opening a new, 24-hour shelter for survivors of human trafficking, a resource the charity is billing as the first of its kind in the D.C. area.

Leaders with the group’s National Capital Area Command say they can’t reveal where, exactly, the new shelter is located in the region in order to protect the people they’re trying to serve. But they held a ribbon-cutting for the new facility all the same today (Wednesday) at the organization’s Arlington headquarters in Alcova Heights.

“This strikes at the heart of the core values of the Salvation Army,” said Maj. James Hall, the charity’s commander for the D.C. region. “We believe this is the best way we can make a difference on a transformative issue addressing injustice.”

Hall added that the entire effort is being paid for by private donations. He’d originally hoped to win grant funding for the shelter, but struck out on that front.

State Sen. Dick Black (R), who represents Prince William and Loudoun in the General Assembly, commended the effort as an essential one to deal with a “rapidly increasing problem” around the region.

He placed most of the blame for that trend on gang members crossing the Mexican border, which he believes has “literally become a torrent pouring into the country” even as data show net migration levels falling in recent years.

“Runaway children are so easily preyed upon by these people,” Black said.

Kyla Conlee, the shelter’s director, says the new facility will have about half a dozen staff members in all, with two “on call” at all times if someone who’s recently escaped a sex or labor trafficking situation needs help.

She says the shelter will have eight bedrooms, and will be open to both men and women looking for a place to stay. Conlee notes that the facility will only be able to house people for up to 10 days at a time, but her staff plans to work with a network of other charitable organizations to find a more permanent living situation during their stays.

“The most immediate need someone has coming out of a trafficking situation is: where am I going to sleep that first night?” said Stuart Allen, a federal prosecutor in D.C. “I can’t take them in. Law enforcement can’t take them in… But now, victims will have a place to go that first night they need those services.”

Conlee added that her staff will work with local emergency rooms to provide basic medical care for their clients, and even more advanced care for victims of sexual assault. She also wants to offer them the basics at the facility, like new clothes and food, and plans to rely on the community for donations.

Anyone interested in making a donation can drop off goods at the Salvation Army’s Arlington center at 518 S. Glebe Road.

The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command received a donation of 500 bars of Alaffia Good Soap from Whole Foods Market in Virginia Beach on March 9

Whole Foods Market Donates to Hampton Roads Command

The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command received a donation of 500 bars of Alaffia Good Soap from Whole Foods Market in Virginia Beach on March 9. This soap will be given out to individuals while they are staying at the Hope Center Shelter, as well as to those leaving the shelter for permanent housing secured by The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command.

During the winter storms in January, the Salvation Army had a significant increase in the number of individuals they served at the Hope Center both overnight and during the day as a warming station. The soap donation from Whole Foods Market will help to replenish the supply of hygiene items given out at that time, in addition to the provisions they distribute throughout the year.

The Salvation Army is thankful for our community partner, Whole Foods. The generosity of their customers, as well as their commitment to improve the lives of those less fortunate in Hampton Roads, allows The Salvation Army to continue to do the most good for our neighbors in need. Today the men at Hope Center are more comfortable due to the kindness of Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Market in Virginia Beach also made a donation of soap to The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command in October in support of H.O.P.E. Village residents, who are homeless single women and women with children

100% of the proceeds from the sale of Alaffia Good Soap support families and communities around the world.

Ending the cycle of Poverty in Roanoke, VA

Hand Up, Not a Hand Out to end the cycle of Poverty in Roanoke, VA

Research shows that children who grow up in poverty are 32 times more likely to be in poverty as adults.

Ending the cycle of poverty is one of the goals of the Salvation Army Roanoke, and its program, Pathway of Hope.

You could say that the agency is helping families pick up, where the Angel Tree program leaves off.

“Angel Tree’s a great program to help people in times of need, and there’s a three year limit. It’s not an entitlement program. It’s not something you can do every single year to get presents for your kids. It’s for people who are in really desperate situations,” says Deborah Cobourn, with the Salvation Army in Roanoke.

Angel Tree recipients in Roanoke now have to take budgeting classes.
Cobourn is teaching those classes to help parents become more self sufficient.

“Sometimes, when you keep giving and giving and giving, it takes something away from a person’s dignity. So, we want to help people help themselves,” says Cobourn.

The Salvation Army is taking that mission a step further, with the program, Pathway of Hope.

It offers case management and other tools to help parents end generations of poverty.

Bridget Tolliver is one of the participants.

She grew up as a foster child.

Now, she’s a mom, and wants her two small children to have a better life.

“You have to really want the services, and want to do better. It’s not about somebody just handing out to you. If I’m getting off of services, I have to really work toward doing better and not doing the same thing and dwelling in government housing, trying to get your own apartment, budgeting, just being financially stable,” says Tolliver.

Tolliver loves cooking, and wants to someday open her own international restaurant in Roanoke.
She’s now enrolled in the culinary program at Virginia Western, and says she feels like she’s a better mom now.

“I feel like I’m finding meaning between everything, my work, my kids and trying to get them to have everything that they need and for me to be situated to take care of them,” says Tolliver.

Cobourn says Tolliver is a shining example of where she hopes the Pathway of Hope will lead for others.

She says, “the mitigating factor is they want to change. They don’t want a hand-out. They want a hand up.”

WAFF Ice House Fuel fund Salvation Army

Fuel fund builds icehouse to raise donations for needy families

WASHINGTON — Extreme stretches of cold weather like we’ve had this season can be budget busters for heating bills, and the Washington Area Fuel Fund is raising money to help needy families — with the help of an icehouse.

 “We’re going to be sitting on ice. We’re going to be sitting within ice walls and we’re going to feel what it’s like not to be able to keep that thermostat up to 68 or 70 degrees,” said Adrian P. Chapman, president and chief operating officer of WGL Holdings Inc.
 Anyone is welcome to visit the icehouse at Washington Harbour to make a donation. Local celebrities will be chilling out inside its cold confines for 30 minutes at a time in order to raise donations.

Special icehouse appearances include WTOP’s Bruce Alan and Joan Jones Friday at 3 p.m. Washington Capitals alumnus Peter Bondra and Slapshot the mascot will chill out at 2 p.m. Thursday. Washington Bullets alumnus Harvey Grant and the Washington Mystics’ mascot, Pax the Panda, are the chill-ebrities at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Because Washington Gas takes care of all the Washington Area Fuel Fund administrative costs, every dollar that is donated goes to help families pay their heating bills — whatever the energy source.

In 2017, the Washington Area Fuel Fund distributed more than $770,000 to help more than 8,000 families. Eighty-five percent had electric heat, 13 percent used natural gas, and two percent heated their homes with other sources, such as oil, kerosene, wood and pellets.

“You’ve got families who are at the poverty level who are probably paying about 30 percent of their income for energy bills,” Chapman said. “They may be eligible for federal heating assistance, but there just aren’t enough funds to go around.”

 The Washington Area Fuel Fund icehouse will be accepting donations at Washington Harbour Thursday (2–8 p.m.), Friday (2–9 p.m.) and Saturday (12–9 p.m.).

You can also donate anytime at their website online.

The Salvation Army’s cold winter shelter at the Center of Hope is a 24-hour emergency shelter

Salvation Army Lynchburg Aids homeless During Winter Weather

Winter weather can make life even more challenging for the Lynchburg area’s homeless and food-insecure populations. To help manage these needs, local organizations serving the homeless have contingency plans in case of snow or cold weather.

When temperatures drop below 40 degrees, the Salvation Army of Greater Lynchburg offers shelter to anyone in need — whether they are temporarily homeless or having heating issues in their home — at its Center of Hope, located at 2211 Park Ave., said Tammy Shank, director of development for Lynchburg’s Salvation Army.

“We want people to know that there’s a place that they can go so they won’t freeze,” she said. “We’re here to help, we’re here to serve. It’s our mission to do that. We want to create an environment where they feel like they can come here at any time.”

The Salvation Army’s cold shelter at the Center of Hope is a 24-hour emergency shelter, meaning people can seek refuge day or night. Visitors are welcome to stay for up to a week.

“If they see that their stay is going to extend beyond seven days, then we will start working with them to try to find a permanent solution to their situation, whether that is housing or whether we can help them with their bill situation, we look to try to help them fix that challenge,” Shank explained.

 While at the shelter, guests are served breakfast and dinner through the community feeding program, which also is open to anyone in the community needing a meal. To support this mission, the Salvation Army is in need of breakfast cereal, oatmeal, milk, juice, and Styrofoam products like plates and bowls, said Jamie Warrick, residential program manager at Center of Hope. The center requests donations of clean, gently-used pillows, washcloths, and towels with no bodily stains as well.

The cold shelter “definitely” sees increased traffic during winter weather, Shank said, and although it typically has 50 beds, itcan accommodate anyone who needs a place to stay.

 “We don’t turn people away from our cold weather shelter,” she emphasized.

If all beds are full, staff members will set up temporary cots in the Center of Hope cafeteria and chapel.

The Salvation Army has served the Lynchburg community for over 110 years, Shank said, and the organization has helped “thousands” of people in need through its various programs, including sheltering and community feeding.

Washington Gas to Host WAFF Ice House Fundraiser

Washington Gas to Host WAFF Ice House Fundraiser

January 18-20 event at Washington Harbour will raise awareness about the experience of living without heat, and seek donations for the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF)

WGL executives and local celebrities will spend time sitting in the WAFF Ice House.

Washington Gas, a WGL Holdings, Inc. company (NYSE: WGL), is joining The Salvation Army, Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, AltaGas, NBC4, WTOP, The Washington Post and numerous other partners to promote the critical need for winter heating assistance. The organizations are supporting the first-ever Ice House fundraiser to benefit the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF), which serves thousands of families in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia who struggle to pay their utility bills and are at risk of living in the cold.

The WAFF Ice House will be located at the Washington Harbour in Georgetown from January 18-20. The house, designed and built by Ice Lab,consists of 60 blocks of ice that simulate the difficult conditions faced when a home is without heat. The event will be open to the public from 2 to 8 p.m. on January 18, 2 to 9 p.m. on January 19 and noon to 9 p.m. on January 20 with challenges, contests, entertainment and more to help connect people with WAFF’s mission to warm homes.

The issue of heating assistance has become even more pronounced this year with the colder than normal winter the Washington, D.C., area has been experiencing. Fewer than 2 in 10 people eligible for federal energy assistance actually receive it because there are not enough funds to meet the demand. In addition, families living in poverty spend more than 30 percent of their income on energy bills.

“The need to help our neighbors with heating assistance has never been greater and that’s why we are so committed to raising awareness about this critical issue,” said Adrian Chapman, President and Chief Operating Officer, Washington Gas. “As a company dedicated to caring for our community throughout our 170-year history, we know our neighbors always join us in helping those in need. That’s why we started WAFF 35 years ago and every year, our employees, customers and residents step up to help us keep area families warm.”

WAFF, a philanthropic initiative formed in 1983 by Washington Gas in partnership with The Salvation Army, bridges this assistance gap to provide emergency funds to families, veterans, seniors and others who lack resources to pay their heating bills. Importantly, 100 percent of all donations WAFF receives goes directly to heating assistance because Washington Gas pays all administrative costs to operate the fund.

Local celebrities and executives of WGL companies will sit in the Ice House for 30-minute periods during the days’ activities to help draw attention to the cause and raise funds and awareness about this important issue.

More than 35 companies and individuals have raised $100,000 to date to support this WAFF fundraiser. Supporters include: The Salvation Army, AltaGas, NBC4, WTOP, The Washington Post, Monumental Sports and Entertainment, The American Gas Association, Infrasource, MasterPrint, Washington Harbour, National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition, Accenture, Edison Electric Institute, ASD/SKY, WGL Energy, Miller Pipeline, Northern Pipeline, Kubra, Leftwich LLC, WSP, Washington Gas Light Federal Credit Union, Faneuil, Precision Pipeline, LLC, Williams Meter, Henkels & McCoy, G.S. Proctor & Associates, Inc., FleishmanHillard, Teamsters Local 96, Skoda Contracting, HCL, EN Engineering, Miller’s Office Products and Curran & Connors.


About WAFF

Washington Gas created the Washington Area Fuel Fund (WAFF) in 1983 in conjunction with The Salvation Army as its signature philanthropic program. Washington Gas pays for all administrative costs while The Salvation Army assists clients and manages the disbursement of funds through its 12 area offices. This ensures that 100 percent of all donations go to heating assistance. WAFF pays for all types of fuel. Since its inception, WAFF has disbursed nearly $26 million in energy assistance, serving more than 286,000 people. In 2017 alone, more than $773,000 was disbursed to more than 6,000 people. To make a donation or get more information, please go to

The Salvation Army's 127th Red Kettle Campaign Raises $144.5 Million

Salvation Army Surpasses Red Kettle Campaign Fundraising Goal

HARRISONBURG — The local chapter of The Salvation Army surpassed its fundraising goal for its red kettle campaign by more than $1,000.

The Harrisonburg-area corps raised $191,410 in a campaign that ran from Nov. 16 to Dec. 23, according to a press release Monday. The nonprofit’s goal was $190,000, an even greater amount than what kettles have raised in previous years, according to the release.

Capt. John Blevins, who leads the local organization, said in the release he was grateful for the community’s generosity.

 “We are thankful that we reached our kettle goal because of the businesses, churches, civic groups, families and individuals partnering with The Salvation Army,” Blevins said. “We hope that as the year continues we will be able to raise funds to supplement the decrease in the year end direct mail giving.”

While the red kettle donations were up, The Salvation Army received about 40 percent fewer mailed donations this year, according to the release.

The nonprofit reached its goal with the help of matching grants from Skyline Roofing and Stone Hill Construction, both of Rockingham County, during the final weekend, according to the release.

 The red kettle campaign began 12 days later than usual because the local corps was worried about burning out the few volunteers it had. With less than a week left in the campaign, the nonprofit was down about $65,000.

The money pays for Salvation Army services and programs throughout the year, which includes operating its 64-bed shelter and food pantry that helps feed about 300 families a month.

Contact Ellie Potter at 574-6286

Suffolk Christian Church will once again partner with The Salvation Army

Church to offer warmth this weekend

Suffolk Christian Church will once again partner with The Salvation Army and Social Services for their annual Coats for Community giveaway this Saturday and Monday.

Those in need can come from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and 2 to 4 p.m. Monday to the church at 216 N. Main St. for coats, scarves, mittens, hats and more to keep them warm this winter.

This will be the 28th year the church has held the giveaway, and it’s grown every year, according to church member Kitty Martin.

“Hundreds of people got coats last year,” Martin said.

The church is still accepting donations for this year’s giveaway and also needs more volunteers to help families choose items from the racks.

“Whatever they bring to us, we’ll go through them and they sometimes need to be cleaned, if they’re a little bit too ragged,” Martin said. “But most of these coats we give away are in very good condition.”

The church accepts donations year-around of new or gently used coats, hats, mittens, gloves, scarves and sweaters, as well as cash, which is used to purchase new items.

Call 539-9182 for more information.