- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008




For those in the deepest, darkest need, you are not alone. For those needing a place to stay or food on the table or a person to talk to and with whom to pray, there are resources ready to serve you. There are time-tested organizations and churches all across this country that help people work through personal crisis every single day, in good times and bad. We are busy right now.

The Salvation Army has spent 143 years internationally in crisis management. Since 1881, The Salvation Army in America has been a comforting, trustworthy and uplifting presence for individuals and families, for the underserved and those who are marginalized or even forgotten in the midst of their personal crises. We’re not economists, and in all candor we don’t have any great insight to the financial dilemma we all face. But, we know need and we are an organization that has been called by God and enabled by our donors to serve suffering humanity without discrimination.

Like many service organizations right now, the Salvation Army is seeing a spike in the demand for services - specifically housing, utility assistance, food programs and transportation. In some areas, the need has increased by as much as 10, 50 and even 100 percent and reports indicate that many people are coming to us for the first time, some of them former donors.

As in times of natural disaster, no one organization can meet the need alone. It takes partnerships on the local level, forged before the crisis strikes. We are also reliant upon the support of the American people who give generously in good times and in bad to help their neighbors in need.

This economic struggle and its impact on lives is no different.

At a time when many Americans are tightening their purse strings, the Salvation Army has seen no major gain or drop in fundraising overall. Rather, the American public continues to demonstrate generosity by the simple fact that those who can still give do. Not only do they give, but, understanding the struggles of their neighbors, they give more per gift. It is this spirit of generosity that has enabled the Salvation Army to serve through the Great Depression, to stand alongside our troops during two world wars and to assist millions in crisis throughout the steady economic shifts of the past. Today, it is this generosity and our faith in our mission that propels our service forward.

The Christmas season is fast upon us and with it comes the joy of rebirth. Because of the greatest gift, that of the birth of Christ, this time is known as the season for giving. Whether Americans give to our traditional red kettles this Christmas or to their church or another social service organization, gifts of time and money will help bring rebirth to the lives of many in dire circumstances. At no time in recent history has a contribution been so important to your neighbor and your community.

And so I encourage you to consider giving what you can of your time, money and resources this Christmas season to help those in your community.

I also want to encourage the American public with the fact that The Salvation Army, and others like us, are serving and will continue to serve through this most recent economic struggle. Our doors are open and there is no shame in asking for help. As the Apostle Paul challenges all of us in his letter to the Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” In this time of uncertainty and struggle, the Salvation Army sees yet another opportunity to do good to all people, and true to the American spirit, we know that we will see the American public rise to do the same.

Major George Hood is national community relations & development secretary of the Salvation Army.

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