Every Week is “Volunteer Week” at The Salvation Army

Organizations around the nation celebrate volunteerism during National Volunteer Week, April 19-25. The Salvation Army sees the difference volunteers make in the lives of hungry, homeless, and hurting people every day. Often just knowing someone cares means the world to a person in need. Here are a few ways in which Salvation Army volunteers have taken to the front lines throughout Virginia and the Washington. D.C. metro area, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in recent weeks:

  • Volunteers gathered at The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command warehouse – at safe distances – to assemble “Happies for the Helpers” bags. Partnering with our friends at AT&T, this small gesture was created to say thank you and bring a smile to those who are working on the front-line to combat COVID-19 every day. The bags were delivered to several area hospitals.

  • Each Tuesday and Thursday, The Salvation Army Suffolk, Virginia assembles and serves restaurant meals for their community. This effort provides about 100 meals per day in partnership with the Love Local, Buy Suffolk Initiative. As cars drive alongside the building, teen and senior volunteers from The Mount Suffolk church safely hand over hot meals to hungry neighbors.

  • A few weeks ago, Patrick began serving at the high-risk shelter that opened in Richmond at The Salvation Army Central Virginia Boys & Girls Club. A full-time contractor, Patrick’s projects have slowed down as a result of COVID-19 so he wanted to use his extra time to give back where he sees a need in the community. Now a regular, Patrick helps temporary housing clients in the fitness studio, serves meals, cleaning — wherever help is needed.

  • Each day Anthony catches the Fairfax Connector bus to get to The Salvation Army of Fairfax. He is not seeking assistance or clocking into a full-time job, instead he is a faithful volunteer who ensures that people in the community have the items they need to weather the COVID-19 crisis. Anthony manages the assembly and distribution of food bags that are packed to feed a family of four for 4-5 days. He also prays with those receiving food, offering them additional comfort.


The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division offers heartfelt thanks to all our dedicated volunteers.


Hampton Roads organizations still accepting donations during COVID-19

The stay-at-home order is keeping everyone inside and kicking spring cleaning off even earlier this year.

People are gathering up clothing and household items to donate. But what is open to give them away to?

A few organizations are still accepting donations during this time.

Major Matt Riley with The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command said donations skyrocketed over the last few weeks

“With this virus, it has kind of amped it up with everyone being home,” Riley said.

Stay-at-home orders forced organizations to limit hours or close, but The Salvation Army is still taking whatever Hampton Roads residents have to offer.

The organization has trailers at their location on 1136 Lynnhaven Pkwy in Virginia Beach and 901 Eden Way in Chesapeake. Both locations have trailers and they are manned Monday through Saturday.

Donors can also stop by their Virginia Beach Boulevard location to drop off items during operation hours without ever leaving their car.

“All our men are wearing masks and gloves,” Riley said. “We are trying to stay with CDC recommendations.”

The United Way of South Hampton Roads spokesperson said Goodwill stores will accept drive thru donations as well at select locations. Catholic Charities are collecting infant and child clothing at their Virginia Beach Boulevard location.

A spokesperson for CHKD said that CHKD Thrift Stores are closed. The thrift store’s Facebook page asks that people don’t leave donations out in front of their locations for the time being.

Riley said donors can sanitize items.

“Wipe it down before it comes as best they can,” Riley said.

He also said be mindful about dropping off after hours.

“We don’t know what the weather is going to hold and sometimes people go through the stuff and it doesn’t make it to us,” Riley said.

The stores have a dual purpose: providing discounted goods and funding adult rehabilitation centers.

“They house these men that are coming and trying to get themselves straightened out from addictions and difficulties they have been having,” Riley said.

Riley hopes donations don’t stop so his guys can stay busy.

“Even though we are not able to open the stores yet, those donations alone keep the men busy,” Riley said. “It is a huge help.”

 Allison Bazzle

Nonprofit founded by former Redskin delivers food to community

89 Ways to Give Foundation, a nonprofit founded by retired Washington Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss, has begun offering food assistance and other forms of community outreach amid COVID-19.

“I want to help the community and give back as much as possible so we decided to assist families with food,” Moss said in a prepared statement. “We don’t want anyone to worry about a basic necessity such as food.”

The organization has donated and delivered fresh food and other amenities to local families in need while maintaining proper social distance practices.

According to Carmen Felder, the foundation’s president, one delivery comprised toys and gifts for an eight-year-old boy whose family did not have the means to throw a large celebration.

 “He was so overjoyed that he drew us a thank you picture,” Felder said in a prepared statement. “It was a priceless moment, being able to help this little guy have a special day.”

89 Ways to Give has collaborated with several nearby companies for this effort, including Salvation Army Fairfax and Sysco. The nonprofit ultimately donates all surplus supplies to Mobile Hope and local churches.

Those wishing for more information on food assistance or to volunteer can visit 89waystogive.org.

Salvation Army Hampton Roads Senior Food Delivery

The Kroc is part of the “One Army” commitment in the Hampton Roads Area Command that covers Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Portsmouth. At the Area Command campus on Raby Road, a daily drive through food pantry has been mobilized. “Our food pantry has seen a 75% increase in the number of individuals and families seeking assistance in the past two weeks,” said Area Commander Major James Allison. “Our inventory is running low with the increased demand for assistance and decrease in the food donations.”

The Salvation Army Kroc Center’s Ministry team, in partnership with the Food Bank and Mercy Chef to Seniors, delivered meals to the homes of senior citizens as well as senior high-rises in our community. “Our hope is that these meals provide relief to our neighbors in need during COVID-19,” said Lt. Bridges.

Financial donations to The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Commands will be used to purchase the most needed food items and provide financial assistance for programs that our neighbors in crisis are facing. Donations will help those struggling to handle the effects of COVID-19 in Hampton Roads. Online donations can be made at https://give.salvationarmypotomac.org/HamptonRoadsCOVID, or call Grace Ramos at 757-965-9007.


“Together, we all make a larger impact on the needs of our community,” said Major Allison.

Salvation Army Hampton Roads Happiness for Helpers

While it came as no surprise when The Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Norfolk, Virginia, heard that medical staff at the Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (SNGH) were facing increased demands on their physical and mental health. The Kroc Ministry Team responded to that need by creating and delivering “Happies for Helpers.” The gift bags were filled with snack items they had at the Kroc Center that were intended to be used for upcoming events that had been cancelled.

“The nurses said that this small gesture by The Salvation Army brought so much joy and excitement to their team, being able to select a familiar and comforting snack,” shared Lieutenant Kelsey Bridges from the Kroc Center. “We thanked them for loving their neighbors and assured them of our prayers that the Lord would build them up in strength and courage.”

Local Salvation Army Corps Officers Distribute To Those In Need

In response to the Coronavirus crisis, Lieutenants Shane and Carmen Owens, Corps Officers of The Salvation Army Montgomery County Corps Community Center, along with Corps members, prepared and distributed 65 food bags for the Middlebrook Gardens community. Many struggling families reside in the development, and some of the children from the community take part in the Character Building programs offered by the Corps, including music programs and Sunday worship. Thanks to our community partners and your support, we can continue to provide for those most in need throughout the Coronavirus pandemic crisis.

For A Population Already Living On The Edge, New Risks From A Pandemic

How do you shelter in place when you don’t have a home? Where do you wash your hands when you live on the streets? These are some of the challenges faced by those struggling with homelessness amid the coronavirus outbreak. And advocates working to help this vulnerable population stay healthy and safe are worried things will get a lot worse.

Brian Carome, the CEO of Street Sense Media, says it’s important to remember that well before this pandemic, the homeless were already at risk. “Life in the streets is just exceptionally harsh,” he said. He notes that many people experiencing homelessness have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions and high blood pressure, which makes them especially vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Last week, Carome made the tough decision to stop printing and sales of the Street Sense newspaper, essentially laying off 130 vendors who are homeless. He says they understood how risky it is to be selling papers to the public  during this public health emergency. “They know better than anyone that they’re at the greatest risk and if they get this, it could be deadly. And that’s our greatest fear right now.”

With Street Sense shut down, vendors not only are losing income, they are also disconnected from their community of buyers. Carome says that’s increased their feelings of isolation. “In the last 48 hours, I’ve heard two of our vendors using phrasing, suggesting suicide ideation, specific to the pressure they’re feeling around the current situation,” he said.

Perina Gaines, a nurse at the D.C. government’s psychiatric emergency program, CPEP, has also noticed an increase in anxiety levels. She says the people she sees who suffer from mental illness and who don’t have stable housing are already so cut off from society, many haven’t even heard of the coronavirus. When patients come through in a psychotic state, it’s difficult to do even a basic screening. “The uniqueness of a psychiatric emergency room is that many patients can’t answer these questions. They might not be able to respond to ‘do you have a body ache?’ Whatever question, they just won’t respond,” Gaines said.

That the region is essentially shut down is hitting those experiencing homelessness especially hard. Public libraries where the homeless access computers and shelter for warmth during the day are closed. With streets empty and restaurants closed, it’s harder to find discarded food. Public transportation is now severely limited, so even traveling to pick up medication or other essential errands can be a challenge.

The advice everyone is being told to follow doesn’t quite translate to the living situations of those experiencing homelessness. Major Mark Woodcock is the area commander for the Salvation Army National Capital Area. “In this crisis, when we’re told ‘wash your hands’  constantly, those who are living on the street simply don’t have that option.” His organization is working to respond, but they’re facing pressure themselves. Woodcock says they usually serve 150-200 hot meals every night through their mobile van, ‘Grate Patrol,’ and they’ve already seen a 30% increase in demand, even as a major source of program revenue–Salvation Army thrift stores–have closed.

Debby Shore is the executive director of Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a non-profit which runs drop-in programs and houses about 150 youth. She says they’ve had to rearrange beds so they are more than six feet apart, and with schools closed, they’ve struggled to come up with constructive activities for the young people during the day. She says many of the kids are anxious, especially about their living situations. “We are seeing young people in our drop in center who are living in trap houses, and many of them are coming for food and they’re coming for cleaning supplies, you know, to try to clean the abandoned house they’re living in.” Shore says they’re also seeing more youth come in to wash their clothes.

Advocates like Brian Carome also worry about what will happen to this population when the pandemic reaches its peak in the region and more people need to be hospitalized. “I just worry about, will we lose folks, because when there were not enough ventilators to go around, the life of someone else was put ahead of one of our folks.”

He says he does believe we’ll bounce back as a country, but that it will take a lot longer for some.

Kavitha Cardoza is a reporter in the WAMU newsroom.

Faithful Volunteer is Doing the Most Good in Fairfax Virginia During Covid-19 Crisis

Each day Anthony Gonzalez catches the Fairfax Connector bus to get to The Salvation Army of Fairfax. He is not seeking assistance or clocking into a full-time job, instead he is a faithful volunteer who ensures that people in the community have the items they need to weather the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Salvation Army Fairfax Corps provides food bags to households experiencing a loss of work or diminished income due to the COVID-19 virus,” said Corps officer Major Donald Wilson. “Tony is in charge of the food bags we assemble and distribute to neighbors who drive up.” Each food bag is packed to feed a family of four for 4-5 days. As supplies have become available, the Corps also provides toiletries and clean-up kits. Gonzalez also prays with those receiving food, offering them additional comfort.

On a recent visit to the Corps, Commissioners David and Sharron Hudson leaders of The Salvation Army USA watched Tony and other volunteers in action. The Commissioners witnessed the after-school program staff in production for their new video series on YouTube, “Operation Power Hour.” “The one-hour program will be posted three times a week to keep youth, families, and the community connected during this time of school and job closures,” explained Major Wilson.

Last week the Corps provided meal and snack bags to international students in campus housing at George Mason University who are unable to return home due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions. This week, the Corps has started delivering bags to those homebound and unable to get to the Corps for the drive-through distribution.

The Salvation Army’s doors are open during these uncertain times because the vulnerable people in our community need us to get them through.

The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division welcomes Patrick F. McAuliffe, Jr.

The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division welcomes Patrick F. McAuliffe, Jr. as the new Divisional Director of Planned Giving (Legacy and Estate Planning). McAuliffe will be responsible for engaging The Salvation Army’s donors in planned and deferred gifts, with responsibility for identifying prospects, designing and implementing gift planned strategy, providing guidance in gift structures that achieve donor’s goals and stewardship of donors with deferred gift commitments and lead the marketing program for the gift planning team throughout Virginia and the National Capital area.

Just prior to joining the staff at The Salvation Army, McAuliffe was director of gift planning at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. While there, he developed and grew the Legacy program by over 230% in five years, consistently securing more than 20 planned gifts per year.

McAuliffe completed his MBA in Marketing at Mount St. Mary’s, where he earned a B.S. in business and finance.

“Pat brings a wealth of knowledge and a successful track record in planned giving to our Division,” said Lt. Colonel Mark Israel, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army National Capital & Virginia Division. “In his past positions he has demonstrated expertise in building relationships and partnerships. He will be a great asset to our Division as we grow programs to serve those in need in God’s name.”


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.

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