Newest Salvation Army van to hit the streets next week

Kyla Smith
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Salvation Army on Friday unveiled its new Emergency Disaster Services van which they say will help volunteers to better respond to crises.

Donated by Ford Motor Co., the customized 2016 Ford Transit 350 cargo van will serve as a disaster response unit as teams answer calls from local authorities in emergencies.

The Transit will serve as a disaster response unit as part of The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division Emergency Disaster Services canteen fleet. The disaster services volunteer team responds to calls for help from local authorities.

Chuck McDougall, Emergency Disaster Services director, said the new van’s design will make it easier to maneuver through tights spaces as they help provide food, beverages, blankets, temporary shelter, clothing and communication support.

“The unit is a lot sleeker so we can drive down city streets that are narrow,” McDougall said at the Detroit Police and Fire Superstation on Fort Street, where the van was unveiled. “Not only do we help provide help to victims that are in distress, we aid police officers, firefighters and other first responders. We try to do as much as possible to take the burden off of someone that may have lost everything.”

The cargo van joins a fleet of 15 the nonprofit uses throughout the area. Each has enough food to feed more than 200 people. They have a full-size industrial refrigerator and freezer, coffee maker, microwave, electric hot water heater, two-burner cook top, 25 gallon water tank and water pump, internal and external power outlets and a 10-foot awning.

Fully stocked, the Transit will be able to serve approximately 250 disaster victims and first responder personnel.

Ray Wiederhold, 82, dressed in a red Salvation Army bomber jacket and matching hat, admired the van from afar.

“I’m impressed with the new design,” said Wiederhold, who has been a Salvation Army volunteer for more than 14 years. “I’m a native Detroiter and have lived here my entire life. This is how I give back. Giving time to help others is worth more than any amount of money.”

Technosports Creative in Livonia provided the LED interior lights and customized the entire vehicle.

“We have had a long partnership with The Salvation Army,” said Janet Lawson, director of Ford Volunteers Corps. “When you put two iconic brands together, you can better serve the community. The victims in need come first and I think this cargo van is a nurturing truck that will help do that.”

The Ford Transit will hit the streets as early as next week. Later this month, a similar Transit will be donated by Ford in Kansas City.

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