Donations in Action: Shelter guests moved to hotel rooms

May 26, 2020

The Salvation Army Northern Division and our supporters are adapting to the COVID-19 crisis and finding creative ways to serve people and families across Minnesota and North Dakota.  

Below are several examples of how our officers, staff members, volunteers, and donors are making a positive impact on those affected by this historic crisis.

Please join our fight by giving a donation. Your gift will provide emergency assistance for those who desperately need it. 

Shelter guests moved to hotel rooms

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, The Salvation Army sheltered more than 400 people per night at our Harbor Light Center in Minneapolis (pictured). But the pandemic has made it dangerous for people experiencing homelessness to sleep together in close quarters, prompting the need for unprecedented safety measures.

The Salvation Army has responded to this problem through our partnership with Hennepin County and other local charities. In recent weeks, nearly 250 Harbor Light guests have been moved into hotel spaces leased by Hennepin County.

All of these guests are senior citizens or people with underlying health conditions, putting them at a higher risk of serious illness or death due to COVID-19.  

In addition, Harbor Light and Catholic Charities are providing staff members at a downtown Minneapolis hotel to help with things like intake, meal delivery, temperature checks, and other assistance.

Another 165 guests remain at Harbor Light, where social distancing and round-the-clock sanitization have been implemented. 

“The general vulnerability of people experiencing homelessness is already quite high; the COVID-19 pandemic has caused this population to become even more vulnerable to harm, prompting the need for extraordinary measures,” said Harbor Light director Trish Thacker. 

These measures have come with unexpected expenses such as additional meals, cleaning supplies, and staff hours. The Salvation Army is grateful to our supporters for helping us cover these costs and keep our homeless community safe.  

“We are committed to supporting Harbor Light guests – before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thacker said. “We continue to provide housing case management and support services that enable guests to stabilize, then take the next steps in pursuit of their goals.”

99-year-old man to walk 100 miles

A 99-year-old man named Mickey Nelson is attempting to walk 100 miles to raise money for The Salvation Army – an effort he calls “Walking to 100.”

Nelson – who turns 100 next month – aims to reach his goal by walking the streets in his hometown of Clarks Grove throughout the summer. Daily he walks to the post office, his church, and to see members of his family.  

“This’ll do some good – I’m glad I can do that,” the World War II vet said during an episode of KARE 11’s Land of 10,000 Stories

Nelson chose to support The Salvation Army on the recommendation of his church’s pastor, Jamie Cameron, leader of First Baptist Church of Clarks Grove.

“All of our area churches work with The Salvation Army – we appreciate what they do,” Cameron said. 

You can support Nelson’s walk by donating to his fundraising page. All gifts will be used to provide food and basic care to local people and families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Learn more about Mickey.

Need for goes up and up

The need for food continues to rise at Salvation Army locations all over Minnesota and North Dakota.

Our busiest location is the West 7th Salvation Army in St. Paul, which has distributed nearly 13,000 boxes of food during the past 10 weeks – the equivalent of 260,000 meals. 

This food has been a godsend to people like Chelsey, a hardworking single mother with four kids under the age of 11. 

“I can’t say where I’d be without the food I’ve been getting from The Salvation Army,” she said. “They’ve given me so much. They’ve helped me tremendously.”

In addition to distributing food, the West 7th Salvation Army has also been handing out hundreds of hygiene kits. On Thursday, 100 of the kits were given to students of the High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul, where more than a third of the student body is currently experiencing homelessness. 

To date, The Salvation Army Northern Division has distributed close to 1.2 million pounds of food in response to the COVID-19 crisis in Minnesota and North Dakota.  

Please join The Salvation Army in serving those affected by the COVID-19 crisis by giving a donation or signing up to volunteer. Your help will provide emergency assistance and hope for people and families in desperate need.

If you are feeling lonely, fearful or hopeless due to the COVID-19 crisis, call our Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline at 877-220-4195 anytime between 8 a.m.–8 p.m. Central Time. Trained Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers will be available to talk, listen to you, and pray for you. 


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