For the first time in 130 years, The Salvation Army is starting its annual holiday fundraising campaign early across the country in order to rescue Christmas. The funds raised through the organization’s iconic red kettles are at risk this year due to COVID-19 while requests for services are at an all-time high.
“In Central Virginia, nearly 6,000 individuals rely on The Salvation Army’s support each Christmas. With more individuals needing support for the first time following the economic impact of COVID-19, we could see that number double,” Captain Jason Burns of The Salvation Army Central Virginia said. “We are committed to providing hope to the most vulnerable, but we need the community’s support now more than ever to do so. We are looking at new options to make donating safer and simpler than ever so that we can also keep the safety of our donors and volunteers safety a priority as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”
Since March, The Salvation Army of Central Virginia has provided more than 10,000 meals, 198 nights of safe shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to hundreds of people in need. While the need for support has always been there, this year it is greater than ever, with support for Christmas expected to increase as well. As fewer individuals are shopping
in person or carrying cash as a result of the pandemic, The Salvation Army could see up to a 50 percent decrease in funds raised nationally through the red kettles, which would limit their capability to provide services for the most vulnerable. To put this in perspective, last year $126 million was raised nationally through about 30,000 red kettles. Locally, red kettles raised $290,000 through nearly 50 kettles during the 2019 Christmas season to support our programs throughout the year.
The Salvation Army of Central Virginia Sets Out to “Rescue Christmas”
· The best way to ensure that these vital services continue is to enlist in Love’s Army with a sustaining monthly gift of $25 per month.
· Donate in person at our red kettle locations beginning in November. Locations will be updated on our website as they become confirmed. To help ensure the safety of bell ringers, donors and partners, The Salvation Army has adopted nationally mandated safety protocols.
· Donate digitally with Apple Pay or Google Pay at any red kettle in Central Virginia
· Ask Amazon Alexa to donate by saying, “Alexa, donate to The Salvation Army,” then specifying the amount.
· Adopt an online red kettle to help get a head start on Christmas.
· Give any amount by texting “RVAKETTLE” to 71777
· Donate physical gifts in bulk.
· Adopt additional Angels to give hope and joy to kids and families in need through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
Every donation provides help and hope to those in need, and all gifts stay within the community in which they are given. Visit SalvationArmyCentralVA.org to donate or learn more about how you can help The Salvation Army rescue Christmas this year.
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club quickly evolved to meet the ongoing needs of the community, first transitioning into an emergency COVID-19 shelter and then offering a limited capacity summer camp for children. From ending the school year virtually and no longer being able to participate in many of their favorite activities, the lives of children and youth look drastically different than when 2020 started. By offering limited-capacity summer camp, The Club provided a new sense of hope and comfort to youth in the community when they needed it most.
Staff implemented intensive health and safety protocols, such as daily temperature scans, PPE requirements, increased cleaning and spacing out classrooms. While summer camp looked different from what the children were used to, it didn’t stop them from making lasting memories and developing critical skills. With many schools returning virtually this fall, The Club opened its doors as a Facilitated Learning Center and welcomed students from Richmond City, Henrico and Chesterfield Counties. Here the students receive in person support during the school day, daily breakfast and lunch, and afterschool programming. The Club is also serving as a community hub in partnership with Richmond Public Schools where families can receive access to community resources.
“Once again we are transitioning to meet the needs of the community and Club members when they need support most,” said Boys & Girls Club Director, Hugh Jones. “We are prepared to serve as a facilitated learning center to maintain the academic, emotional and character development of youth while they aren’t physically in their schools anymore. We are proud to offer support, and grateful for our community partners working together to create a bright future for our children.”
As we are all navigating through uncharted waters during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army of Central Virginia was grateful to provide support for its Boys & Girls Club members by offering a limited-capacity summer camp. We know how adults have been challenged by all that is going on, however the pandemic and quarantine have also taken a toll on youth. From not finishing the school year, no longer being around friends or participating in their favorite activities for months, the lives of children and youth look drastically different than they did six months ago. The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club wanted to provide positive support for youth in the area, especially when they needed it most. We wanted to offer what we are here for and are known for: creating an atmosphere of fun and learning while also providing relief for parents while they are away. The scripture below was shared with Boys & Girls Club staff in preparation for reopening during these trying times:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Staff spent the weeks leading up to summer camp learning about all CDC/State health and safety guidelines and revamping protocols to fit the current circumstance. Staff have made sure that all individuals will remain safe including measures such as: parent drop off, taking temperatures twice a day, limiting class sizes, ensuring social distancing, planning creative programming, monitoring use of face masks and hand washing, and more. Summer camp opened on June 22nd and is now in week four. While initially opening under new circumstances was tricky, staff and camp participants are now comfortably enjoying camp while remaining safe and healthy. The last few weeks have been full of activities, energy, creative programming, smiles, and laughter. Staff, parents and club members alike have been getting into the flow of navigating as we provide an optimum Club experience once again!
The Salvation Army Central Virginia opened a temporary housing center today in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The center will actively protect the health and safety of individuals identified as higher risk to the exposure of the COVID-19 virus.
The Salvation Army is an active member of the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care and this temporary center is a collaborative effort to provide professional housing and health support to clients in the center. The temporary center will have the potential to house up to 75 individuals who are currently receiving temporary housing through the GRCoC. Residents will have access to comfortable bedding, showers, meals and heightened health care screenings.
“The Salvation Army recognizes that our community and nation is facing many new challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. With these new challenges, The Salvation Army and the Greater Richmond Continuum of Care is working hard to find solutions,” Major Donald Dohmann of The Salvation Army Central Virginia said. “Opening a temporary center for higher-risk individuals is a unique way to serve our community through the love of Christ and possibly save lives. We are happy that we can continue to serve our community in this unique way.”
The temporary center, which will be separate from the organization’s emergency shelter located at 2 West Grace Street, will house individuals currently in the emergency homeless shelter system who may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19. This temporary center will be housed inside the Salvation Army’s Boys & Girls Club, which has temporarily postponed its standard programming.
In the January City Council Meeting, The Salvation Army of Central Virginia was approved for relocation of its Area Command to 1900 Chamberlayne Avenue (Eternity Church), which will allow the organization to expand its homeless services, including doubling client bed count and increasing access to critical services.
By moving to a one-story building, The Salvation Army will be better equipped to serve disabled individuals in need of housing. Additionally, the nearly 50,000 square feet of space will more than double the amount of available beds, increasing from 55 to 97. This expansion will allow The Salvation Army to continue the decline in homelessness by increasing the access to safe shelter.
“We’re excited for the potential impact this new facility will have on people who are experiencing a housing crisis,” said Major Donald Dohmann, Area Commander, at The Salvation Army of Central Virginia. “In order for The Salvation Army to continue doing the most good, we need to evolve as community needs evolve, and this is the perfect opportunity for that.”
The relocation will include the move of all administrative operations, case management services and emergency housing into one facility, enabling more comprehensive care for clients. The Salvation Army will continue serving the Richmond community through their Adult Rehabilitation Center, Boys & Girls Club Program and Citadel Corps church.
The Salvation Army has been serving Central Virginia residents in need since 1885 and has been located at 2 West Grace Street for 40 years. By moving Area Command under one roof, The Salvation Army hopes to strengthen their focus on serving the community and advocating for people seeking a path to self-sufficiency.
Darvonette Johnson, a senior at Franklin Military Academy is The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club 2017 Youth of the Year. Johnson received the honor by exemplifying characteristics of community involvement, leadership, compassion for others, and strong moral character.
“When I first came to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club I was a quiet and shy little girl who kept to herself,” said Johnson as she addressed the panel of judges representing Spice Rack, Church Hill People’s News and I Vote for Me. “The Club has helped me blossom into an outgoing, determined leader who loves helping my community and the people around me. I’ve become a better person thanks to the staff at the Club.”
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been the Boys & Girls Club of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating extraordinary achievements of Club members. Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs across the country select a Youth of the Year from their selective Clubs. The competition is a premier recognition event for Club members, promoting to the club, community and family, academic success, public speaking ability, life goals and strong moral character.
Two members of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club in Richmond’s East End competed for the 2017 honor, with Johnson taking the top honor over Ty’wann Jackson, a junior at Armstrong High School.
“Darvonette exemplifies the critical impact of the Club on the lives of young people and will be a great representative for The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club at the state Youth of the Year competition in Norfolk,” explained The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club executive director, Hugh Jones. “Youth of the Year participants embody the values of leadership, service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles. Through the Youth of the Year program, young people are able to showcase their talents and achievements, share their hopes and dreams, and work toward a bright and positive future.”
Johnson has been a member of the Club for four years and is the president of the Keystone Club.
Johnson will work with Club Council members to prepare to compete against other youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across Virginia and Washington, D.C. for the distinction of State of Virginia Youth of the Year in early April.
For over 95 years, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club has had a positive impact on Richmond children through core programming in Education/Career, Character & Leadership, Health & Life Skills, Arts, Sports & Fitness, and Morality & Values.
The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club is working on a renovation project that will change how the Club supports and empowers Richmond’s East End residents and youth. As alums of the Club, you’ve had a first-hand experience of how participating in Club activities can change a child’s life. We want to hear your stories on how The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club changed your life so we can change more lives!
* We will not publish your quotes, name or information without your permission.
Andrew moved from Washington, DC to Richmond in 2003. He left DC after years of dealing drugs and life in the fast lane and came to Richmond with all his belongings, put them in a storage unit and figured he spend the next year on the road as a bus driver. The job didn’t work out though and soon Andrew had no income, he turned to the pastor at the church he was attending and got connected with The Salvation Army.
Gerald Williams is a senior at Franklin Military Academy in Church Hill, a short walk from The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Gerald has been a member of the Club for three years and noted that he has learned a lot and gained valuable experience while a member.
“I’ve learned a lot about leadership inside the Club,” he said. “The different programs and initiatives have helped me become a better person and more committed to supporting the children and staff here but also supporting my community.”
Gerald has participated in several programs while at the Club but notable has been the Keystone Club, a club for teens that provides opportunities for youth to participate in activities in areas of community service, academic success, career preparation, and teen outreach. “Participating in Keystone Club helped me to socialize with my peers and feel comfortable discussing important issues that many of my friends are facing,” he said.
As the 2016 Youth of the Year for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club, Gerald competed against other youth from Boys & Girls Clubs across Virginia and Washington, D.C. for the distinction of Regional Youth of the Year in early April.
This Friday, April 22, NASCAR driver David Ragan will make a personal appearance at the Atlee-based sweetFrog location (10040 Sliding Hill Rd, Ashland, VA) to commemorate his partnership with sweetFrog and raise funds for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Richmond residents and all race fans are encouraged to visit sweetFrog from 7-9PM this Friday, April 22, to meet Ragan, enjoy their favorite sweetFrog creation and take home a limited edition sweetFrog racing T-shirt and signed limited edition David Ragan hero card. sweetFrog will donate 25% of all sales from 7PM to close to the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club located in Richmond’s East End.
“I am excited to have sweetFrog on our Toyota for Richmond,” said Ragan. “Richmond is one of my favorite races of the year, and the Sunday afternoon event will be a new challenge for our team. sweetFrog is my family’s go to spot for frozen yogurt. Let me put it this way – I am thrilled about this partnership, but my excitement pales in comparison to my daughter Julia’s face when we walk into sweetFrog!”
Regardless of whether you’re a fan of NASCAR or not, please make time to visit the sweetFrog at 10040 Sliding Hill Rd, Ashland, VA on Friday from 7PM to 9PM to enjoy premium frozen yogurt and sweetFrog will donate 25% of all sales from 7PM to close to the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club located in Richmond’s East End.
On February 27, a Salvation Army Case Manager, Yasmir Hall, volunteered with the team of volunteers from Project W.A.R.M.. A service that provides firewood to households in the Richmond area who heat their houses with wood burning stoves. Hall visited the woodlot in the northside area of Richmond near John Marshall High School. When he arrived the volunteers had already split the wood necessary to deliver to the houses on that day’s deliver list. Hall rode with volunteers to deliver the wood, greeted families and assisted in carrying wood into the homes. During the deliveries he saw on recipient who had been into The Salvation Army earlier in the week for assistance with her electric bill. Hall, who will be moving back to New Jersey at the end of March, said he’d been working with the Project W.A.R.M. team for two years and wanted to experience it before leaving.
The process works by Yasmir qualifying the families who call into The Salvation Army seeking assistance to heat their homes, he completes an application with them to confirm eligibility and then sends the list of qualified families for the week over to the Project W.A.R.M. team who will then chop and cut the wood on Saturdays and deliver to the families on the list in the afternoon.
Below is a letter from Mary Ann Wilson (pictured in red jacket), wife of the program’s late founder, Lou Wilson. Ms. Wilson is also an Advisory Board Member with The Salvation Army:
“I thought I’d share this photo taken recently at the woodlot. We were thrilled that Yasmir joined us – literally got his hands (and nice coat) dirty from such good work 🙂 So sorry to see him go as I know you are – some people are truly a genuine loss and I count him among them…He was dependable and accurate and a huge help in fielding requests and providing the weekly list of our wood recipients. We are much grateful for his “faith-full” and prompt service so that we could manage to keep many people warm with our simple yet effective means. One of the beautiful outcomes of Project W.A.R.M. is the exposure it has to the young people who join us every week to help as best they can – from toddlers to teens they’re getting a birds-eye view of not only the needs of others but how caring people try to meet those needs without passing judgement.
Thank you all for your ongoing support – we truly couldn’t survive without your being there. The best to you as you continue life’s journey, Yasmir. As Lou would say: “You’re a good man – not too many of us left” :)”
We hope you had wonderful Christmas and are enjoying an equally wonderful 2016 so far. High among our blessings in 2015 was your continued support our community feeding program, Community Meals. Your cooking and service made it possible for us to serve 50,000+ meals over the course of the year and we are grateful for your support.
We are taking this opportunity to update you on Community Meals and its future. Recently we have experienced a rise in violence during our breakfast and dinner service to the community. Within the last week, several altercations have taken place, some resulting in personal injury and others in property damage, leading us to serve the meals carryout rather than dine in, simply out of danger to our shelter residents, volunteers and staff. In 2015 we also had to call the police over two dozen times to report incidents and request assistance.
Additionally, we have experienced issues with client confidentiality and safety as a result of allowing close to 150 individuals into our building to receive a meal. The use of the cafeteria and staff time during the Community Meals service has also hindered the service we aim to provide for our shelter residents whom come to us expecting transformational programming to help them in their journey toward self-sufficiency. However, because of strained staffing and lack of space, we have been unable to provide this service to the level our residents deserve and we expect of ourselves.
With that said, we will be ending our service of the Community Meals program. Friday, January 29 will be the last day of breakfast service and Saturday, February 27 will be the last day of the Community Meals dinner.
Mid-way through 2015 we began review of the Community Meals program and whether the growing number of calls to the police, property damage and staff strain justified continuing the service at the cost of serving our shelter residents. We concluded that our mission, “To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in His name without discrimination”, was not being applied among our shelter residents appropriately while we continued Community Meals.
We had hoped to have serve meals further into the New Year, however, due to the rise in incidents such as mentioned above, we feel no choice but to completely end the program on Saturday, February 27.
We will continue to serve breakfast and dinner to our shelter residents, a number of about 60, seven days a week. We pray that you can continue to support our feeding efforts and respect the decision to close the Community Meals service. Within the week our Volunteer Coordinator, Joanna Brown, or a member of our staff, will call you to discuss this. We will also be working on a list of other organizations who offer feeding programs to the community and communicate that to you, should you wish to continue with this type of support.
Thank you again for your support and God bless,
Major Timothy Carter
Area Commander, The Salvation Army Central Virginia