MASS Spotlight: Tim Jones, Burrows Center Receptionist
Tim Jones lives out the mission of the Burrows Center for Help and Hope every time he answers the phone: “Salvation Army Burrows Center; how may I help you?” As the front desk receptionist, Jones is the first person people meet when they call or visit the Benson-based operation. After nearly 20 years on the job, he’s seen first-hand the breadth and depth of need in the Omaha metro.
The Salvation Army often comes to mind in times of natural disasters, such as the Flood of 2019 or in the aftermath of a devastating tornado, but Jones likes to remind people that The Salvation Army is here to help with everyday needs, too. The Material Assistance and Seasonal Services (MASS) program at the Burrows Center fills more than 8,000 grocery orders every year, offers utility assistance to hundreds of people in need, and provides school supplies and Christmas assistance to thousands of families.
“People are truly stretching their budgets as far as they can,” he said. “This is where the Burrows Center comes in. We provide food and help with prescription costs, clothing, and other necessities to free up some of their income for other expenses.”
One of Jones’ favorite events of the year is the Back-to-School Backpack Drive. Every August, the drive distributes thousands of backpacks filled with school supplies to families with school-age children in the Omaha metro and points beyond.
“Seeing a child receive a brand-new backpack for the first time really touches your heart,” he said. “It’s like you gave them a bar of gold. It’s really precious to them.”
Jones also appreciates the support of the community, which helps keep the Burrows Center food pantry stocked. “Corporations donate food, and everyone from the postal workers to the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts bring in donations,” he said. “We couldn’t do the work we do without these wonderful people.
With Christmas right around the corner, the Burrows Center is preparing to assist families who can’t afford to buy gifts to put under the tree this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, gift distribution in 2020 will entail a contactless, drive-thru process — as opposed to the traditional method of inviting families to gather in Salvation Army buildings for mass-distribution events — but the good news is that everyone will still be able to get the help they need to make the season a special one.
For working parents like LaJonna Newsome, the Christmas Assistance program is a life saver. “My husband and I both work, but it’s still a real struggle,” she said. “We have bills — heat, water, the mortgage — but we also want to give our kids a nice Christmas. The Salvation Army has been a helping hand to our family.”
The Salvation Army’s MASS program provides assistance when times are tough by offering food, clothing, household items, help paying for prescription medications, utility assistance and seasonal services. Our goal is to help those who are struggling stay afloat until financial stability can be achieved. For more information about MASS, visit our Burrows Center for Help and Hope website.
Are you wondering, “What can I do?” to help people in need during this especially challenging Christmas season? One answer might be to help Tiffanie and her MASS staff #RescueChristmas this year for thousands of people in the metro. Consider making a donation to a virtual red kettle or sign up for the Adopt-a-Family program to sponsor a family in need this Christmas.