The Salvation Army built a foundation on community and connection. There is great strength in simply showing our neighbors God’s love. The Salvation Army service extension unit in Dekalb County, Indiana, has seen this impact firsthand.
When Renee, director of the organization, arrived ten years ago, she had seen that the ministries in the county could use some major improvements. Fortunately, their current office sits on nice property that provides endless opportunities. Renee decided to put some of that space to use.
“Last year, I found myself looking out my window at an old basketball court that sat beside our building,” said Renee. The court was in poor condition, making it unusable for the local community.
“How could we restore this area to be useful to our ministries?” she asked herself. Taking up a large space, Renee thought the fenced-in area would make a wonderful handicap-accessible community garden.
Thanks to gracious donations and the hard work of local volunteers, Renee was able to remove the goalposts, purchase raised beds, and begin planting!
“A youth group came to assist me in cleaning out the rock located around the concrete pad that was used as the court,” explained Renee. “This allowed us to use the outer edges of the garden to plant as well as the raised beds in the middle. It’s transformed into a beautiful space.”
Since then, the unit’s garden has become the heart of the community. The unit hosts several events in the garden throughout the year, including a summer garden party and a Christmas event. “It’s like another world when you enter through the gate,” mentioned a local community member. “There’s no place like it.”
The food pantry and community garden now serve an average of 687 individuals (260 families) a month, making it one of the largest food pantries in the area. Renee says the garden has encouraged the unit to improve the quality of service in the pantry. “Food is our way to connect. When people come into our pantry, I want them to tell us about their lives,” she said. “I want them to share their troubles.”
The community commends the unit’s hospitality, as they provide hot meals and fresh groceries while also sharing recipes for the families to try when they get home. “We could not have done this without the gracious gifts of donors,” explained Renee. “The donations have been a great blessing to us and the community.”
Your donations allow The Salvation Army to build communities and show God’s love across the state of Indiana.