Volunteers Serve More Food, Heart in 2023
The Salvation Army relies on, and appreciates, volunteers to aid with projects such as feeding the homeless and near-homeless population in the metro through Winter Night Watch, sorting donated school supplies and stuffing backpacks for the annual school supply drive, even weeding and maintaining the grounds around The Salvation Army’s metro-area properties. This past year, volunteers donated more than 14,000 hours to help The Salvation Army do the most good. That’s a 30% increase from the number of hours served in 2022.
Divisional Director of Volunteer Services Erin Sanders said there are a few reasons for this boost.
“I believe needs continue to grow in our community, and, as people become more aware of the needs and/or are directly impacted themselves, we’re seeing them take action and help where they can,” she said.
In conjunction with this upturn, Volunteer Services added new opportunities—specifically, the Welcome Home Crew, which assists by cleaning and organizing TSA-run temporary housing. They create positive, handwritten notes and artwork; plus, they make welcome baskets with necessary items such as linens. Bouncing off the idea of handwritten greetings, community members also wrote holiday notes to seniors assisted by TurkeyFest.
Another factor was youth volunteering to gain service hours for National Honor Society. A large majority of the added hours, however, came from current volunteers promoting volunteer activities and/or inviting friends and family members to join them. Winter Night Watch saw an increase in people distributing warm winter-clothing items and food, and a church group started volunteering, committing several nights to this program. Longtime bell-ringing groups set a challenge of doubling their hours and successfully increased the fundraising efforts in this important program.
Sanders expressed gratitude on behalf of The Salvation Army.
“Think about what our time is worth and how careful we are about where we spend it,” she said. “These folks give something so precious to us, to their community, and their impact has ripple effects. In addition to physically serving, they may not realize that their warm smile was reassuring to a parent who needed Christmas assistance this year or that their compassionate note to a senior prevented them from feeling isolated on a holiday. Volunteer support means more good being done in the community and more needs being met. We sincerely appreciate the continued support of all volunteers.”