Many of the people The Salvation Army serves are in the middle of crazy circumstances. Their stories can be heartbreaking, uplifting, and everything in between.
Here are some of those stories, submitted by Salvation Army social workers and caseworkers from across Minnesota and North Dakota. Out of respect for the people involved, we are retelling these stories without using names.
If you’ve ever wondered how The Salvation Army uses your donations, here are some good examples:
Grandma, grandkids banish bedbugs
The local school district sent us a referral to help out a frail grandmother who was the sole provider for her five grandchildren. The family battled bedbugs and was required to dispose of all their furniture. The grandmother could not afford new beds.
The oldest grandchild was 18 and helped the grandmother to our appointment. We were able to get beds for the family by referring them to a partner agency that provides furniture. We also gave them blankets and hygiene items, and encouraged them to stop by our food shelf whenever necessary.
A disabled man whose gas had been disconnected for three weeks, and whose electricity was close to being shut off, came in for assistance to restore his utilities. The man’s only source of income was social security. He had been taking cold showers and was starting to get sick.
I helped the man apply for assistance by making a few phone calls and faxing some documents to several community agencies.
I made another phone call to the man’s gas company, informing them that the man would be current on his bills very soon, once his paperwork went through. The company said they’d reconnect his service that same day.
Help for autistic man
A man with autism sometimes comes in to talk to me. He never seeks financial assistance – just a friendly ear, and sometimes food from our food shelf.
The other day he came in to talk after I hadn’t seen him in a while. He said he faced challenges with housing and employment. He said he appreciated our conversations because there weren’t a lot of people he could talk to. After we chatted, I gave him a few bags of groceries through our Lunds & Byerlys distribution to add some nutritious foods to his diet.
I felt happy to see this man again. I was able fill his need for social interaction, while helping to fill his physical need for nutritious food.
Not a handout
My staff works to educate the people we serve about the difference between a handout and a hand-up.
We stress that Salvation Army programs like food, shelter, and utility assistance are not meant to be relied upon by people who have the capacity to improve their financial standing.
It is gratifying when people accustomed to being on “the system” use The Salvation Army’s resources to become self-sufficient. We are thrilled to help these people: 1. Find employment. 2. Secure permanent housing. 3. Get themselves out of poverty.