Salvation Army Shines a Spotlight on Hope in a Year with Skyrocketing Needs
Last night throughout The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division, a spotlight shone into the night sky from each of our 28 corps community centers – announcing the early launch of our Christmas campaign this week and signifying the hope that shines from each of these locations.
This year that hope is especially important, as needs throughout our neighborhoods have skyrocketed due to COVID-19, a reality that inspired The Salvation Army to launch our annual Christmas fundraising drive a full two months early nationwide.
At the Elgin Salvation Army Corps Community Center, the spotlight was accompanied by a 10-piece brass band playing Christmas music, a red carpet, a giant inflatable red kettle, and one of the Army’s emergency disaster services trucks, from which staff passed out boxed meals of hotdogs, chips, and cookies.
Mayor Dave Kaptain addressed the few dozen residents in attendance and did the honors of turning on the spotlight. The crowd also heard from La Tonya Walker, Executive Director of the Community Crisis Center, a local organization partnering with the Elgin Corps to provide toys to local children in need this holiday season.
“Elgin has been hit hard by COVID. Parents are making difficult choices between paying bills and buying Christmas presents for their children,” Elgin’s Captain Forney told those gathered. “Now more than ever, we need partners to join with us in taking care of the least of these in our community.”
The Aurora Corps Community Center shone their spotlight from their brand-new 11,000-square-foot building at 550 Redwood Drive. The staff moved into their new building on Monday and are still awaiting most of their furniture. But their excitement was not dimmed for the upcoming holiday season, when they will help thousands of their neighbors in need through signature Salvation Army programs such as Angel Tree and Adopt-a-Family. “We are not letting our challenges determine our dreams,” said Captain Gabriela Rangel, one of the corps officers.
She and her husband, Captain Joaquin, were joined last night by a local family displaced last month by a house fire. The family of four grown siblings and a 12-year-old child have been living in their van in the police station parking lot since August 12. Captains Rangel presented the family with several gift cards to help them purchase items they need to start over. The captains have also been working with the family to secure a new apartment and cover their first month’s rent.
The spotlight in Aurora helped acquaint the community with their new location and brought several curious neighbors to their parking lot, including a woman who wants to volunteer and another seeking assistance this Christmas.
At the Oakbrook Terrace Corps Community Center, staff and volunteers met those seeking the source of the spotlight with Christmas candy and one of the Army’s iconic red kettles. “One couple drove from Lombard, saw the red kettle, realized they didn’t have money on them, drove back home to get cash, then came back to make a donation!” said Cathleen Himes, Resource Development Director at the Oakbrook Terrace corps. “Almost everyone who drove through said how much they appreciate The Salvation Army and what we do for people in need."
The nearly 40 visitors to their parking lot were informed about the many ministries offered there and encouraged to support them this vital fundraising season. The digital marquee in front of the building announced the Army’s theme this holiday season: Rescue Christmas.
“Even in darkest times, The Salvation Army continues to be a shining light,” said Major Caleb B. Senn from the Oakbrook Terrace Corps. “This event helped to remind our community that our light still shines as we work together to rescue Christmas.”