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The Salvation Army: "One of the First on the Scene and One of the Last to Leave"
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By Haydn Jensen


Perron Goodyear
That's how people have come to see The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services response team, according to Perron Goodyear. Perron is The Salvation Army's Ontario Great Lakes Divisional Director of Emergency and Disaster Services and also looks after Media Relations for the London/Windsor area. He's seen a lot of people in need and a lot of people responding to serve in every capacity. Let's take a look how The Salvation Army has been making a difference lately and also at upcoming opportunities for you to be involved.

You'll remember that last July, Saskatchewan was challenged by its biggest forest fire in their history. Although Perron is based here in London, he was deployed there as part of The Salvation Army's National Crisis Support Team. Helping to communicate progress and needs in supporting evacuees, he served alongside many others to help alleviate the devastating impact on those who lost their homes and to support other emergency responders who were pushed to their limits. Organized, experienced and equipped, The Salvation Army has the nimbleness to move fast and be on scene early to provide practical and compassionate support to those affected by catastrophic events--whether it's a forest fire or flood impacting entire communities or a house fire impacting a single family. Although there is often much attention and immediate compassionate community response when a tragic event first occurs, the impact and needs often continue long after the events are no longer headline news. That’s why The Salvation Army is in no hurry to leave once immediate relief objectives are met.

With their vast experience helping those who are having to rebuild their lives after catastrophic loss, Perron says The Salvation Army is ready to provide support for refugees as the country and our new government works on fulfilling their promise to help resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees. Recent attacks in Paris will no doubt impact how things unfold in these efforts, but The Salvation Army is prepared to help and is already actively collecting donations.

Now that we are approaching the Christmas season, another iconic feature of The Salvation Army community presence and service is their Christmas Kettle campaign. They continue to welcome your participation as donors and volunteer "bell ringers" to attend the kettles at over 50 locations throughout the city. One of the purposes for funds raised will be to distribute 5,800 Christmas Hampers to London families in need. The Christmas Hamper provides individuals and families with a gift card, potatoes, carrots, a box of food containing the items needed to prepare a traditional Christmas dinner and a bag of toys for children 12 and under. There is information below on how to volunteer at a kettle--Perron suggests that churches and workplaces can also "adopt a kettle" and have fun working as a team together.

However, perhaps you're like a lot of people who don’t often carry cash around, making you feel awkward and cheap when you have to walk by a kettle without putting in a donation. Don't despair--there's another way! Virtual Kettles! Although still a small part of the total giving stream for the Christmas Kettle Campaign, its popularity is growing steadily. And why not--individuals, workplaces, families, church small groups etc. can create a personalized kettle, customize their own kettle fundraising webpage and invite others via email and social media to donate in support of the work of The Salvation Army. This offers lots of opportunity for friendly competition and a sense of camaraderie in working together to serve those in need through a respected and effective community service agency.

Londoners are also familiar with The Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope as a highly visible downtown landmark, providing emergency temporary shelter to those without a safe place to sleep. Here's a few other things The Salvation Army is doing in London that you may not be aware of:
  • Food Bank services providing emergency food supplies, including infant nutrition.
  • Community Garden: A new effort coming in spring 2016 with a focus on teaching how to grow healthy food.
  • Youth. With strong partnership with the City of London, the 100 Homes Project is a four year effort by The Salvation Army to help 100 people using emergency shelter get permanent housing. This effort will focus on young people first to help them stay out of a cycle leading to chronic homelessness.
  • Anti-Human Trafficking here in London. Yes, here in London. A specialized Salvation Army team works mostly out of the spotlight to care for extremely vulnerable people living in significant personal danger.

This year was also a big year for The Salvation Army as they celebrated 150 years of service as a church movement, a community mission, and emergency response ministry. With their founding and organizational base in the UK, the Ontario Great Lakes Division sent representatives to London, England to join an event showcasing The Salvation Army’s work from 127 countries. Perron says music played a big role in the celebration--and not just the iconic brass band. The Salvation Army worldwide tries to incorporate other types of music as well. So, the 150th anniversary was a gathering of many different musical expressions. London Ontario sent a timbrel (tambourine) group.

TAKE THE QUIZ

All in all, The Salvation Army is clearly established as a longstanding and effective community service and support agency, committed to caring for emergency and ongoing human needs. And yet, Perron shares that they also want everyone to understand that they can’t do it alone. They offer themselves as a conduit to good works that are happening, and invite participation from you and others in the community. Perron is happy to share that they have been able to ensure that 86 cents of every dollar goes directly to services.

Here are some other upcoming opportunities for you to be involved:
  • Saturday December 5: Santa Shuffle (5K fun run and 1K "Elf Walk") starting at Fanshawe College. Get active! Raise money! Have fun!
  • Monday December 7: Annual Salvation Army Festival of Carols at Centennial Hall. A free concert with donation options of food, toys or cash. Features London's Citadel Band (which is also Canada's oldest Salvation Army band), the Barry Usher Trio and First-St. Andrew's United Church Choir

Here are some links and contact info for you to learn more and participate: The Salvation Army Ontario Great Lakes Division: www.salvationarmy.ca/ontariogreatlakes/ Christmas Kettle Campaign (and virtual kettle creation option): www.fillthekettle.com or call 519-433-6106. To volunteer visit www.LondonChristmasKettles.ca