The Joy of an Apple, a Visit, or a Chance to Help Others
As the coronavirus continues, Salvation Army staff throughout our Division are finding that sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most.
The Joy of an Apple
One thing that is different during this season is that we have seen is an influx in the request for food delivery to the homes of the elderly, who cannot get to our pantry. I have received multiple calls via the Chicago Food Depository regarding elderly needing assistance in Blue Island. We call them back to see what their need is, and prepare their food bags according to family size, usually one or two people. I usually drive to their home and leave it on their front step, then give them a call letting them know that we have left it there.
I received a phone call soon after from one of the couples we helped. He said, "Thank you so much for bringing this food. We expected only cans, but you went far beyond, bringing fresh produce, meat, and rice. My wife is on her second apple already." He continued repeating “thank you” so much.
It is hard to image that an apple could bring so much joy and gratitude from this couple. It doesn't matter how small the favor might seem to us, but it could be a great deal to those in need. We have to be the hands and feet to our neighbors when they cannot provide for themselves. This is one situation that truly made me realize the importance of what we are doing during this time.
-Captain Luis Acosta, Blue Island Corps Community Center
Help for an Expectant Mom
A family came to us asking for help. The husband lost his job in March, the wife was pregnant, and they didn't have clothes for the baby they were expecting. When asked about their biggest concerns, the wife said, “Being locked up, not receiving an income, and knowing that the children are not in school. Our main concern was to know that our baby was going to be born with half a kidney and his little feet malformed.”
They couple learned about the assistance available at The Salvation Army from the Mexican consulate. When they called us, we were able to provide them with emergency food, rent assistance, some masks and gloves, diapers, baby wipes, toys and books for the big brother, and clothes for the newborn baby.
“We are very happy and grateful with the help The Salvation Army has given us. Our little savings were running out,” the wife said. “The Salvation Army means salvation in such difficult times.”
-Auxiliary Captain Milly Lopez-Pagan, Chicago Lawn Corps Community Center
Hope in the Midst of Isolation
The Russian-speaking ministry of Des Plaines Salvation Army is constantly involved in delivering groceries and pastries to low-income pensioners' homes (who earn less than $10,000 a year). Since we’ve been supporting these people for a long time, these seniors, who are fearful of any visitors right now, are greeting us with gratefulness and many smiles. It is like a ray of light for them to see that someone cares and visits.
Recently one of the ladies asked us to help her son's family, who have been living in the U.S for only two weeks and found themselves in a terrible isolation because of the pandemic. We visited them and offered spiritual support.
We also visited two immigrants from the former Soviet Union, 86-year-old Valentina and 75-year-old Zhenya (pictured above). Valentina, a widow, lives alone on the 8th floor of an apartment complex in Buffalo Grove. She has been connected with our Russian ministry for the last eight years. Zhenya, a former singer and music teacher from western Ukraine, has often attended The Salvation Army’s Wonderland Camp in Wisconsin, where she amazes campers with her beautiful voice. We brought these ladies bread and mozzarella cheese.
It was a huge blessing and surprise for both of them to receive food and, even more, a visit!
-Major Tina Stasiuc, Des Plaines Corps Community Center
The Power of Volunteers
A gentleman named Mike has been working off more than 500 community service hours as assigned by the court over the past year in our food pantry. He works every Thursday night, and each time he brings with him about 150 cans of vegetables to donate.
Today, another gentleman came in and asked about the pantry and then asked if we knew Mike. As it turns out, Mike has been living with this man and his wife while he gets his life straightened out, and he has heard all about the food pantry after Mike’s visit each week.
Then the gentleman handed the food pantry coordinator a check and said, “Please use this to help others.” After he left, we unfolded the check – a $2,000 gift!
-Major Angie Pennington, DeKalb Corps Community Center
A Beacon of Hope
The Hammond-Munster Salvation Army Corps Community Center has been providing food to Anthem Church. One of their staff sent this lovely thank-you letter:
On behalf of Pastors Sam and Taylor Hamstra of Anthem Church, thank you for the great work The Salvation Army is doing for the community during these tough times. As a church, we are honored to be of help to fight hunger to those in dire need. With the generosity received from The Salvation Army, Anthem Church was able to pass out over 300 bags of food to needy families from the 219 area code in just the month of April.
In a time where there seems to be no hope, The Salvation Army is a beacon of HOPE.
Anthem Church is honored to be a part of the mission to fight hunger. In a time such as this, the church is needed more than ever. We will continue to work together with the same mission – to meet the needs of others.
-Cindy Garrett, Outreach Director of Anthem Church
Feeding the Most Vulnerable
After switching our food pantry to curbside, the staff at Midway Citadel realized that it would be difficult for our clients living in Midway Pointe, the senior high-rise, to pick up food, as they have become scared of traveling for fear of contracting the virus. It was with concern for the seniors in our community that we sprang into action, making special accommodations with the directors of the senior facility to bring our pantry on site once a month during this health crisis.
Unfortunately, just one day before our April distribution we got a call from the facility informing us that one of the residents had contracted COVID-19. The director was concerned that due to exposure in the building, the seniors would not be able to receive food. After careful consideration and with the safety of our staff and the senior high-rise residents in mind, we formulated a plan to be sure that the needs of the seniors would be met without compromising the health of our staff.
We planned, with the director of the facility, to drop off food boxes outside Midway Pointe so that their staff could retrieve the food and deliver it to each resident’s door. We have been, and will continue to be, committed to meeting the needs of our most vulnerable community members during this crisis – and beyond.
-Lieutenant Ali Welch, Chicago Midway Corps Community Center
Learn about all the ways The Salvation Army is responding to the coronavirus – as well as how you can help – at salarmychicago.org/coronavirus.
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For tax purposes: The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division EIN is 36-2167910.