WELLSBURG - Major Charles Powell, leader of the Maryland-West Virginia Division of the Salvation Army, told the many attending the Brooke County Salvation Army's volunteer appreciation dinner on March 29 to look at the numbers listed in the organization's annual report.
Printed in the dinner's program, the report included the following figures: 287 items of clothing were given, 213 grocery orders were distributed and 3,767 meals were served.
A total of 1,382 individuals received assistance, according to the report.
SPECIAL?RECOGNITION — Among the many volunteers recognized by the Brooke County Salvation Army was the Brooke High School chapter of Future Educators of America, which was presented the organization’s Star Award for donating thousands of toys at Christmas through the years. From left: FEA members Tiffany Lancaster and Nuncia Filippelli accepted the award from Janet Tarr, past chairman of the organization’s advisory council; and Capt. Ed Long, commander of the Brooke County Salvation Army.
Powell said the attendees should remember the numbers represent people helped by the Salvation Army, "lives that were changed through the generosity of the people in this community."
Powell and local leaders of the Salvation Army took time to thank the many responsible for the 143 volunteer hours logged at Thanksgiving, the 234 hours recorded at Christmas, the 2,034 hours served at the Salvation Army's thrift store and the countless hours put in for the organization in various ways throughout the year.
Receiving special recognition was the Brooke High School Chapter of Future Educators of America, which was presented the Salvation Army's third annual Star Award.
Janet Tarr, past chairman of the Brooke County Salvation Army advisory council; said the award is given for service "above and beyond" and it's fitting that the group receive it for the many years its members have purchased toys and other gifts for families aided by the Salvation Army at Christmas.
The students raise money for the gifts through fundraisers and donations and their shopping trip is not only a community service project but also a class assignment. Diane Lucero, an instructor for the school's early childhood education and services program, directs them to seek out toys that encourage creativity, social skills or fitness and don't require batteries or accessories the recipient's family may not be able to afford.
Last Christmas the students donated about $970 in toys to the Salvation Army.
"These kids have gone way past what was expected of them and we certainly appreciate it," she said.
Matz Malone, the advisory council's current chair, said the Salvation Army wouldn't have been able to serve so many at Christmas if not for its many volunteers, and that includes the bell ringers who man the red donation kettles outside area businesses.
He and Brooke County Salvation Army Capts. Ed and Goldie Long recognized the three groups and three individuals who raised the most money through their bell-ringing efforts.
The top groups were: the Brooke High School Chapter of Health Students of America, who netted $863 in contributions; Wellsburg Middle School fifth-graders led by teacher Cheryl Baker; and the Salvation Army's advisory council itself.
The top individual fundraisers were: Louis Golar, who collected more than $1,000 in donations; Ronnie Taylor and Travis Adams.
Salvation Army leaders noted the organization's work doesn't end with the holidays, and many help it through the year.
Nora Bell, a volunteer who oversees the Salvation Army's kitchen, said there are many who help her to prepare hot meals for shut-ins and residents attending community luncheons held at noon each Wednesday and Friday.
She gave special recognition to those who put in the most hours: Tina Bash of Hooverson Heights and the kitchen team of Gabriel, Nicholas and Sandy Marshall of Follansbee.
As guest speaker, Powell noted that Salvation Army founder William Booth had such efforts in mind when he formed the group in London in 1865.
A Methodist minister, Booth recognized he couldn't convey a spiritual message to the poor of England until their physical needs had been met.
A hungry man can't really think of Christ until he has eaten, while providing him with the means to bathe himself restores his dignity, Powell said.
Thus, Booth's slogan was "Soup, soap and salvation," he noted.
Powell shared a few stories of people he's seen helped by the Salvation Army. One involved a young mother of three whose husband had left them. The woman had scraped by with what she had but left with just $3 in cash, had planned to buy candy canes for the children as the only gift they would receive.
A neighbor noticed they had no Christmas decorations and after learning of their situation, contacted Powell. He and others gathered toys, food and a Christmas tree donated by a local business and took them to the woman's house, Powell recalled.
When they arrived, offering to help with Christmas, the woman embraced him and wept.
"All of that happened because of people like you," he said.
Capt. Goldie Long told attendees, "All of the people he (Powell) talked about were real. I know because of my own experience."
Long explained that her own father had left her family and that Christmas, her mother whispered to her, the oldest of five children, that Santa Claus wouldn't be coming.
Long was surprised on Christmas morning to find presents for all of them. When she turned to her mother for an explanation, she whispered, "The Salvation Army."
"That was my first contact with the Salvation Army," she said.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)