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More than a red kettle: The Salvation Army provides hope to those in need

Kate Heinz, for The Salvation Army
Learn how The Salvation Army provides hope, support and resources for metro Detroit residents who need it the most. Donate today to help rescue Christmas.

When you see a red kettle and hear a bell ring during the Christmas season, one thing comes to mind: The Salvation Army. Since 1887, The Salvation Army has been serving the metro Detroit area, most notably through its efforts to provide food to individuals and families, along with shelter to those experiencing homelessness.

Today, however, the organization administers a far broader range of services to metro Detroiters who are most at-risk. This includes addressing the needs of those facing substance abuse, providing educational opportunities for at-risk children and young adults and making legal services available to low-income families.

The Salvation Army’s reach extends far and wide, and its support can be felt throughout the community. Though it’s known for its Christmas season of giving, The Salvation Army is more than a red kettle. Its volunteers and bell ringers are administrators of hope who give their all towards “Doing The Most Good” – and no one understands its mission better than the recipients of its generosity.

A single father finds new hope

Struggling to pick up enough hours to cover the cost of his infant son’s needs and essential bills, single father Larry was downtrodden. “My work hours weren’t consistent, and there are only so many corners you can cut. I realized I needed help,” Larry says. He turned to The Salvation Army Royal Oak Corps Community Center and enrolled in the Pathway of Hope program.

Larry found new hope and a new career with the help of The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army provided Larry with the funds and resources to pay rent and purchase food for two full months. More important, he says, was the emotional support and encouragement he received from his caseworker, Nancy.

“She reminded me that I was not alone and gave me hope,” Larry says. “I was so close to giving up; I did not see a way out of my situation. The help I received was amazing for me and my son.”

With the support of The Salvation Army, Larry began to turn a corner. The job he had been searching for finally became available and he landed the position, giving him stability, purpose and a future. “I get to personally care for patients,” he says. “I have wanted a job like this for a long time. On top of all that, my new employer is going to pay for me to start training as a registered nurse.”

The biggest change Larry experienced? He now has hope, something he attributes to the care and compassion shown to him by members of The Salvation Army. “Nancy was the only person in my corner throughout all of this,” he explains. “She cared enough to always ask me how I was doing. Someday, I want to give back to someone who is fighting through hardship like I have.”

Larry is neither the first nor the last person to experience the generosity and warmth of The Salvation Army. Kelly Smith, a single mother of two, turned to the Wyandotte Corps Community Center when faced with the loss of her partner and mounting financial challenges. Like Larry, Kelly found solace, comfort and hope in the care of The Salvation Amy’s team.

Rescuing a family’s Christmas after losing a loved one

Kelly and Marjory, an Advisory Board member at the corps, formed a particularly close bond. “I call her my mom and my kids’ grandmother – that’s how close we have become,” Kelly says. “She has given us so much support and even watched my kids at times so that I could work.”

The Salvation Army helped provide a memorable Christmas for Kelly and her children.

The Salvation Army helped Kelly get back on her feet, but she still struggled to provide a memorable holiday for her children in 2019. Kelly describes her life as being “at a standstill.” “My family would not have had a Christmas without The Salvation Army,” she says. The organization provided gifts, winter gear, as well as a tree and decorations to brighten the Smith’s holiday season.

“The Salvation Army has been a comfort,” Kelly adds. “Their actions are heartfelt, and they will do anything they can to help. I feel so blessed meeting everyone there.”

To learn how you can get involved with The Salvation Army and provide compassion and support to more families in need during the Christmas season, visit salmich.org.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
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