Letter: Help support Detroit’s most vulnerable

Russ Sjögren

Each and every day of the year, men, women and children within the most devastated neighborhoods across the city of Detroit gather curbside to receive what will likely be the only meal of the day for most of them.

Welcome to The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit’s Bed & Bread program which provides meals to our neighbors in need via mobile soup kitchens that travel along inner city routes. Served with a side of kindness and encouragement, the freshly prepared sandwiches, soups and other sustenance are also shared with those who gather at various Salvation Army corps community centers across metro Detroit.

Last year, the Bed & Bread program delivered more than 1.3 million meals, along with more than 130,000 nights of shelter. It’s a safety net that protects our community’s most vulnerable citizens.

Bed & Bread trucks are dispersed from our Harbor Light campus in Detroit daily, traveling 170 miles to 62 stops where adults and children respond with gratitude to the sandwiches, homemade soups and chilis, fruit, snacks and hot chocolate they receive. During the brutally cold months, we also often distribute hats, gloves, socks and blankets with the meals.

But the need for Bed & Bread doesn’t end with the brutal cold, as the warm months see children in large numbers — whose school breakfast and lunch program is suspended during summer vacation — joining the adults along the curbs and at corps community centers for a single meal they must stretch until the next day’s delivery.

As you read this in warm surroundings, perhaps over your own meal, you have a chance to ensure the basic needs of our impoverished neighbors — especially the children — are met throughout the coming year.

The 31st annual Salvation Army Bed & Bread Club Radiothon, presented by Ford Motor Company Fund, will be held from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Feb. 23 at the Emagine Theatre in Novi and broadcast live on News/Talk 760 WJR. This year’s fundraising goal is $1.4 million and every donation counts. In fact, your annual contribution of $120 (just $10 per month) will make a real difference for five people the Bed & Bread program can feed for nearly a month.

The number of natural crises that have rocked our country, and our world, in recent months has called upon us all to dig just a bit deeper with each incident to help our global neighbors rebuild their lives. In the meantime, the struggle continues for the fragile lives right here in Detroit that depend on the community’s generosity for food and shelter.

Russ Sjögren

general secretary,

Metro Detroit area commander

Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division