How Does The Salvation Army Fill a Unique Role in Serving Detroiters in Need?

Mar 16, 2021

One of the longest-standing charities in the United States, The Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Division has been serving Detroiters in need since 1887. For over 130 years, we have remained steadfast in our dedication to lifting families out of poverty, providing food and shelter to those living on the streets, and showing God’s love to all. In the last year, the world has been significantly changed by COVID-19 – but one thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to serve metro Detroit. Here are some unique ways we achieve our mission!


We serve every zip code in eastern Michigan.

Our Emergency Disaster Services serving on site after the flood in Midland.

From Cheboygan to Hillsdale, from Port Huron to Livingston County, we extend help to individuals and families no matter where they live in the state. With thirteen corps community centers around Metro Detroit and thirteen more corps community centers spread throughout the region, we are always close by to lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need.

We serve the whole person: spirit, soul, and body.

National Commander Kenneth Hodder and Salvation Army National Advisory Board member at the Detroit Harbor Light Center.

The Salvation Army’s mission to meet human needs without discrimination leads us to restoring and nurturing people holistically. Whether someone comes to our door for a meal, shelter, detox services, or prayer, we are ready to provide those services and more. If there’s a specific service we aren’t able to provide, our vast network of community partnerships allows us to direct people to the right place.

We have multiple programs unique to Detroit and to The Salvation Army nationwide.

Our Bed & Bread truck serving a Detroiter in need on one if its Encore routes.

Each day our Bed & Bread Club truck drivers make their way through Detroit, traveling multiple routes and making 57 stops to feed the hungry. Unlike other feeding programs across the state and country, our Bed & Bread trucks seek out those in the streets who are hungry and serve more than 1.3 million meals annually in the form of sandwiches, soup, hot chocolate, and more. Our trucks also give hats, gloves, blankets, and socks to those in need. The Bed & Bread program is funded by the annual Radiothon, the largest 24-hour single market fundraising event in the United States.

Another unrivaled program in the Detroit area is our William Booth Legal Aid Clinic, which provides legal counsel, advocacy and education and facilitates social services on behalf of individuals, families, and U.S. Military Veterans in need within the community. The clinic primarily assists with matters related to family law, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, probate, and landlord-tenant law. Ninety percent of its clients are minorities. The clinic’s annual fundraiser is Walk for Justice.

We provide services based on community need, and we prioritize efficiency.

The Downriver Corps Community Center offers archery training to local youth.

This past year, the COVID-19 pandemic made us adjust some of our services to be as safe and effective as possible. For example, the toy shops that usually occur at our corps community centers at Christmas were replaced entirely by gift cards so that parents could get toys for their children in a contactless, easy way. Additionally, those who support us can have confidence in the way we utilize our resources, because whether we are responding to a pandemic or helping someone get off the streets into a shelter, 87 cents of every dollar we raise is used to help someone in need.

Our spiritual foundation appeals to many looking for help.

Farmington Hills Salvation Army officers Karen and Anil Kumar (right) prepare a dinner delivery for Beaumont Hospital staff.

Every Salvation Army corps community center is headed up by ordained pastors known as officers. Many of the individuals and families coming to us for material help also inquire about forms of spiritual care. Especially in this last year as the pandemic took its toll, The Salvation Army has encountered countless people who are seeking prayer and pastoral care that is free of judgment. By being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, our goal is to bring God’s love to the vulnerable and marginalized.

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