First Posted: 9/18/2009
Christmastime with the familiar jingle of a bell from a volunteer standing next to a red kettle from the Salvation Army is still months away, but people in need dont just have needs during the holidays, that need is year-round. This week officials with the Salvation Army gathered together for a conference to brainstorm about ways to remind people to give all year long.
The Salvation Army provides financial assistance, clothing, food and medication assistance. Last year, the Mount Airy Salvation Army served 11,350 persons. The organization provided 384 cooked meals; 1,074 families were helped with grocery orders; 203 individuals were provided with lodging; 12,117 clothing items were distributed; 479 people were helped with their utility bills; and 99 people received prescription assistance.
Those numbers dont include Christmas needs. Another 5,388 individuals received assistance at Christmastime last year.
We are trying to raise awareness in what is happening at the Salvation Army. Other than ringing bells at Christmastime we do so many other things in the community, said Salvation Army Capt. Michael Rodgers.
Rodgers took over the position formerly held by Capt. Ray Morton in the latter part of June. Rodgers said he and his wife, Susan, have really enjoyed their time in Mount Airy.
I love the area. Its beautiful, he said. We moved here on a Sunday and started moving the Salvation Army store from its former location on South Street to its current location (at 541 W. Pine St.).
Rodgers said the quality and amount of donations at the store have declined over recent months.
Its not doing as well as I hoped we would do. We still get a lot of stuff that should go to the landfill. We have to use our trucks to haul the usable items that are dropped off. We were hoping by moving, the amount of garbage being dropped off would stop. It really makes it difficult with the cost of operating involved in hauling it to the dump. We cannot take mattresses, period. We cant take furniture that is clearly not suitable to sell. We need gently used items.
Wade Felts, an employee at the Salvation Army store, said he hauled off 10,000 pounds of garbage that people had dumped off at the store since last Friday. He said that took four trips and the truck only gets about six miles to the gallon.
That takes me and another man the time to load and unload the truck, plus time to drive out to the landfill, Felts said.
He said if someone already has the garbage on their truck, they should take it to the landfill rather than leaving it at the Salvation Army.
Rodgers said the Salvation Army has seen a dramatic increase in the number of requests for help with a clear drop in donations coming in. He said the demand is always there throughout the year. The only funding the Salvation Army receives is what it collects from the sales at the store, donations and some funding from the United Fund.
Its a huge program, we do a large amount of social service needs every day. The most tragic thing is when we have to say that we are out of funds, he said.
Rodgers said one thing that hurts the store is there are a number of used clothing stores in the area.
What people should know is that with the Salvation Army, whats raised here, stays here.
For those who would like to make a direct donation to the local Salvation Army, the address is P.O. Box 443, Mount Airy, NC 27030.
Donations can also be made online at www.salvationarmyusa.org.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.