MASS Spotlight: Volunteer Margie Smith
Each Wednesday in October we’ll highlight The Salvation Army’s Material Assistance and Seasonal Services (MASS) program. Today we shine the spotlight on longtime volunteer Margie Smith, community relations specialist for Penfed Credit Union.
Margie Smith is convinced she has the best job in the world. As the Omaha community relations specialist for PenFed Credit Union, she is responsible for connecting employees with volunteer opportunities around the metro. “There’s nothing better than helping someone out,” said Smith. “Helping others makes you a better person and a better employee.”
Volunteering is woven into PenFed’s company culture. “Giving back to the community is encouraged from the top down; it’s a priority,” said Smith. “We like to be able to set an example for other companies to get involved in supporting our community as well.”
Smith estimates more than half of PenFed’s 600 employees at its two call centers in Omaha volunteer for various organizations, including The Salvation Army.
Over the years, PenFed employees have launched dozens of collection drives and donated tens of thousands of items to The Salvation Army – from winter coats and personal hygiene products to food and school supplies.
Following the catastrophic flooding in 2019, PenFed volunteers staffed The Salvation Army’s disaster relief centers and managed a call center that fielded requests for flood relief assistance. They also regularly volunteer for The Salvation Army’s Back to School Backpack Program, the Kids Cruisin’ Kitchen summer mobile lunch program and Winter Night Watch, a mobile food program that serves hot meals and provides winter coats and accessories on cold nights to those experiencing homelessness or near-homelessness in the metro.
“I’ll never forget the first time I went out with Winter Night Watch,” Smith recalled. “We ran out of coats and gloves at the first stop; the need just blew me away. I said to myself, ‘We’re not going to let this happen again.’”
Smith and PenFed’s employees collect winter coats, gloves, hats and socks all year long to ensure The Salvation Army’s food trucks – called canteens – are well-supplied when they hit the streets on the coldest nights of the year. “We even have a group of ladies crocheting scarves to donate,” she said.
So far this year, PenFed has donated and delivered three truckloads of winter outerwear to The Salvation Army in anticipation of the 2021-2022 Winter Night Watch season. PenFed is set to staff two canteens for two nights every week this winter, and Smith is looking forward to hitting the city streets with her team.
“I love this program, I love what The Salvation Army does, and I love the feeling I get having made a small difference in someone’s life,” she said.
The Salvation Army of Omaha’s MASS program helps individuals and families in need bridge the gap by providing fresh and canned food, clothing and household items and assistance paying utility bills. Seasonal services include free summer fans, backpacks filled with school supplies for kids returning to the classroom, gifts and meal vouchers for families at Christmas and Thanksgiving and the Winter Night Watch program. Learn more about MASS, Winter Night Watch and volunteer opportunities with The Salvation Army.