In many locations, since 1961, starting at age 14 in my hometown, I have served God as a volunteer, employee and officer (an ordained minister) of the Salvation Army. I was stationed for a year in Lock Haven in 2007-08 as the associate corps officer. Although I have chosen not to attend The Salvation Army as my home church at this time, I would like to share my feelings in response to the letter to the editor entitled, “Pathetic,” on the subject of the “Poorman sign” on the side of the building.
The first day that I passed the building with the sign covered my curiosity was peaked. I wondered what was beneath the black draping. The next time I passed by and saw the massive sign, I was flabbergasted. I could not imagine how it was possible that only one name would be associated with the worship and charitable work of the Salvation Army in this, or any community.
I have served in locations:
r Where $25,000 was given … with no special recognition needed or wanted.
r Where extremely large anonymous donations were made.
r Where millions of dollars were left to the Army by one individual.
r Where individuals who had needs met in the past by the Salvation Army’s services have made it to a point to contribute (even a little) to express their gratitude and “pass on” to others the benefits they had received.
r Where, as in Lock Haven, the volunteers who provide hundreds of uncompensated hours (aside from the satisfaction of looking into faces of individuals or families having a need met) hours that no organization would have the funds to begin to provide wages to cover the cost of their time, experience and energy.
The Salvation Army is, first and foremost, a denomination of the Christian church. Everything that comes from its service to any community originates in the Biblical mandates and Christian hearts of those administering to the needs of those who enter the doors of the Army building for assistance, whether spiritual, material, financial or physical.
Even as a young teenager, whenever I rang the bell at the kettle at Christmastime, I was always amazed at how those who appeared to me to be the poorest of the poor always seemed to dig deeper into their purses and pockets to give. Many times the more elegantly dressed simply tossed in a little loose change. Now, that does not negate the value of that loose change, no matter if it comes from those who have a lot of only a little to give. Every bit adds to the services the Army is able to provide. From the smallest to the largest donations, in coins tossed in kettles or the hundreds of one and two and five dollars sent in the mail, eventually is surpasses $25,000 many times over.
In Lock Haven alone, each year there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of donors who have provided “small” donations to The Salvation Army, for well over 100 years. If each donor’s name was placed on one brick, a skyscraper could not hold all the names.
Salvation Army Buildings have always been dedicated “To the Honor and Glory of God.”
The funds lost by the proper decision not to give credit to The Salvation Army’s years of service in this community to one individual will certainly be replenished ten-fold by the Lord. Integrity to a Biblical principle far surpasses any financial gain that does not support the basis of faith adhered to by the Army worldwide for 151 years.
May God bless and keep ever close to Himself all those who see the needs of others and, in even small ways, do what they can to meet those needs.