Opinion: Salvation Army helps Eastern Michigan get through tough times

John Turner

Imagine these scenarios: Not being able to put food on the table to feed your family, having your utilities shut off because you can’t afford the bill, or losing your home due to a natural disaster. Those situations are devastating for people and their families — but when those same circumstances occur in the midst of a global pandemic? It’s heartbreaking.  

The individuals and families who encounter these events turn to The Salvation Army throughout the year, because to them, they’re already facing a crisis — and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated that. They know that when times get tough, The Salvation Army has been, and always will be, there for them.

People wear masks out of concern for the coronavirus while standing in line outside a Salvation Army food pantry Tuesday in Chelsea, Mass.

Southeast Michigan is no stranger to poverty; nearly every county has a rate above 10%. The coronavirus crisis has had a domino effect on the people in our area; businesses have reduced or cut staff completely, costing people their jobs. Their income drops or disappears and they’re not able to pay their mortgage or rent, put food on the table or keep the lights on.

As we reflect on National Salvation Army Week across the country, we join other communities throughout the United States in celebrating our volunteers, donors and program beneficiaries who have enabled The Salvation Army to serve metro Detroit for 133 years. We’re also honoring our commitment to faithfully serve the people of Southeast Michigan through the COVID-19 pandemic, as we’ve found ways to adapt and grow — allowing us to continue providing critical social services and programs to our community during this health crisis.

Over the past weeks, we’ve seen requests for assistance increase across the board. Our corps community centers have distributed approximately 20,000 pre-packaged food boxes, served nearly 130,000 meals and helped hundreds keep their utilities on and rent paid. These essential services, along with other critical social services such as shelter, legal aid and addiction treatment programs, are now more important than ever — because in times of great distress, The Salvation Army remains committed as a beacon of hope and healing. 

If you are fortunate and have the means to provide a donation at this time, we would be extremely grateful for your gift. However, if you are one of the millions in Michigan who need assistance in any way, please reach out to us.

When you donate to The Salvation Army, you can be confident your gift is going toward helping the good people of metro Detroit. For every dollar donated, 87 cents will fund programs and services in your community, with increased attention now on providing food and utility assistance to those who need it the most.

We’re on the front lines meeting human needs, and we’ve modified many of our existing services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re practicing social distancing and implementing all recommended safety measures put in place by the CDC and the MDHHS. Most of all, we want to continue demonstrating the love and peace of Christ with our neighbors.

Let us recall in the Letter to the Romans, where Apostle Paul reads in Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”

The Salvation Army is standing by to serve now — and long after this current crisis passes. 

Lt. Colonel John Turner is divisional commander and regional CEO of The Salvation Army's Eastern Michigan Division.