Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Social worker helps man

Donations in Action: Shady car loan

Added on Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Many of the people The Salvation Army serves are in the middle of crazy, unpredictable circumstances. Their stories can be heartbreaking, uplifting, and everything in between.

Here are some of their stories, submitted by Salvation Army social workers and caseworkers from across Minnesota and North Dakota. Out of respect for the people involved, we are retelling the stories without using names.

If you have ever wondered how The Salvation Army uses your donations, here are some good examples:

Shady car loan

A mother of two was behind on her rent. After learning more about her financial situation, I discovered why: For two years she had been paying almost $1,000 per month to a car-loan company that preys on people in poverty. She owed three times the value of the car in interest alone.

To make matters worse, the company installed an engine shut-off mechanism that prevented the car from starting if she didn’t pay on time. This caused the woman a lot of fear and anxiety; she needed the car to get to work and to bring her kids to daycare. She often got scared that the car would be shutoff and leave her and her kids stranded in the cold.

Thankfully, I was able to help the woman get a different car loan. I connected her with an affordable credit union and showed her how much is too much to pay in interest. Now she is saving hundreds of dollars per month, and soon she will be back on track financially.   

Government gaffe

This month I helped a man resolve a Social Security issue. The government had informed him that he would only receive $53 per month for the next two years because he had been overpaid due to Workers’ Compensation.

But the government had made a mistake. The man had never received Workers’ Compensation before. The situation made him feel scared and confused.

I helped the man resolve the issue quickly. Not only did his full amount get reinstated, he was guaranteed to receive five months of backpay within the week.

This story goes to show that being a Salvation Army caseworker is not always about providing people with food, clothing, and financial assistance. It is also about helping them solve complicated administrative problems. I am thankful for the opportunity I get to serve so many people, in so many different ways.

Painful two years

Recently I met with a gentleman in his 50s who had endured two years of anguish. In addition to his wife dying in 2017, the man had recently undergone multiple surgeries to repair crushed vertebrae in his back. His medical problems rendered him unable to work or pay all of his bills.

His situation had become so dire that his power was in danger of being shut off. Thankfully, I was able to provide $500 worth of Salvation Army HeatShare funds to help with his electric bill and stop the shut off. The man was grateful that he would not have to go without heat or power during the remaining months of winter.

When it rains, it pours

A woman came into my office distraught because the sprinklers in her apartment had gone off, ruining her carpeting and all of her belongings. Her landlord refused to pay for her to stay someplace else.

I got the woman into a hotel and began helping her find a new place to live. Soon she found a suitable apartment. The Salvation Army helped her pay the first month’s rent and furnish her new home.

The woman was thankful to have The Salvation Army in her corner during an unfortunate situation that was beyond her control. 

The Salvation Army Northern Division pledges to do the most good with your gifts of time and money, with 81 cents of every dollar going directly to services. Join us by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community. Stay current on how The Salvation Army is changing lives in Minnesota and North Dakota by signing up for our e-Newsletters.