Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Salvation Army volunteer painting a white wall orange

Volunteers made big impact in 2017

Added on Thursday, February 8, 2018

It’s true. We’ve said it time and time again: Our volunteers make us better and enable us to do the most good for the most people within our capacity to serve. It is by the support of these same volunteers that The Salvation Army was able to serve many people throughout 2017. They are the muscle behind our vision. With the first month of 2018 already gone by, we want to pause a moment to reflect upon and celebrate the work of every single one of our volunteers (that’s you!).

Below, we have a small handful of examples of how our volunteers were able to better the lives of others. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for all that you help us do.

Providing calm within a storm

The end of August brought fierce storms to the Gulf Coast region of Texas and, later, to the beaches of Florida. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma ripped through the two regions and uprooted the lives of so many individuals and families. Salvation Army volunteers across the United States, including Minnesota and North Dakota, answered their calls for help [read related story].

Salvation Army volunteer hugging a natural disaster survivorIn a little over two weeks, The Salvation Army served well over half a million meals and drinks, gave out more than 8,600 food boxes, and provided nearly 13,000 comfort kits and 4,000 cleanup kits. Trained officers also provided emotional and spiritual care to more than 34,000 individuals.

Sue Marsh, a Salvation Army disaster volunteer and retired junior high teacher from the Twin Cities, said the destruction in many places was overwhelming.

“Just like we have snow drifts four feet high, they have piles of debris that high everywhere you look,” she said.

Kettles, kettles, kettles

Happy bell ringersThe kettle season began in mid-November and continued through Saturday, December 23, during which time thousands of volunteer bell ringers braved the cold and snow at hundreds of red kettle locations.

We met some truly incredible individuals and groups of people who were committed to joining our fight for good in the battle against poverty. For example, members of the Underwood Lions Club in Fergus Falls, Minn. provided enough volunteers to staff one kettle all season long. Their goal to staff a kettle for the entire Christmas season has been a tradition dating back to 1999. In total, their kettle raised more than $25,000 in 2017.

This is just one example of bell ringers going above and beyond to better their communities. You can read more stories of other incredible individuals, teams and businesses who have come alongside The Salvation Army to help people experiencing poverty all year long.

Connecting with community

With a mission to serve hundreds of the most vulnerable people in Minneapolis, the staff at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center knows they simply cannot do it alone.

Two Minneapolis Police Cadets Smiling

“We work with a population that often requires police intervention, so we need to work together,” explained Deidre Hoppe, volunteer coordinator at Harbor Light.

The Minneapolis Police Department recognizes that too. This year, the MPD started a new internship program that places two police cadets as volunteers in social services organizations in Minneapolis – including Harbor Light.

The two cadets (pictured) spent a week helping with everything from doing laundry to unloading pallets of donated food, all while learning as much as they could about those who call Harbor Light “home.”

Their volunteer experience serves as an excellent reminder that we need to reach out and try to understand those who are struggling so that we may find better ways to support them.

Helping others stay clean

Nearly 11 years ago, Pat Stevens landed at The Salvation Army desperate for a fresh start. She had spent much of her adult life addicted to drugs, eventually losing and everything she cared about.

Today, Pat has gotten it all back thanks to her hard work. What is more, she now volunteers at The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center in Minneapolis to teach a class to help other women find a path to a healthier life.

“I’m a beacon of light to a lot of women. I am proof you can turn it around,” explained Pat.

Her weekly class, called “Celebrate Recovery,” focuses on helping women connect with people who support their new lifestyle of sobriety. Pat helps create a safe space for women who are battling addiction by building trust and empowering them to keep going.

Please join The Salvation Army by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community.