Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is a sight and sound that is just as familiar as poinsettias, Christmas trees, Santa Claus and holiday music . . . the red kettle, ringing bells and the Salvation Army volunteer!
My visits to Paoli’s Acme would not be the same this time of the year without a warm holiday greeting from the Salvation Army volunteers stationed outside Acme’s door.
Here’s some interesting history on the Salvation Army – the movement was started in the 1850’s by William and Catherine Booth as a way to bring the gospel to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute in Britain. The Booth’s unconventional methods of preaching to the people attracted thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunks. Many churches, however did not accept their nontraditional methods (or their converts) so the Booth’s took their message to the streets. By 1880, their style became more acceptable and their volunteer army was named the ‘Salvation Army’.
In learning some of the background of the Salvation Army, I was surprised to discover that when the Booth’s missionary efforts expanded beyond Britain, it was to the United States. But more importantly, Philadelphia was the founding city for the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army movement expanded rapidly to Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and local neighborhood units. The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world.
By 1891, the kettle idea had spread from the east coast to the west coast. The core belief of the Salvation Army volunteers is that, ‘Every Life is Meant to Shine’ and that all needy people need to be properly fed at Christmas. The first nationwide effort in 1897 resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. This year in the US, the Salvation Army expects to assist more than 5 million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time period.
Other than a bit of history, the real purpose of this article is to mention that locally the Salvation Army is in particular need this year. The food that the West Chester branch of Salvation Army volunteers had been collecting since September spoiled last weekend when their freezer malfunctioned. They are now scrambling to try to come up with contributions to help the 300-400 needy families. A Community Matters reader brought this to my attention and I want to make sure to get the word out . . . food donations, and checks can be sent to the Salvation Army, 101 E. Market St, West Chester, PA 19382. Or, you can visit Paoli’s Acme and make a contribution in that Salvation Army volunteer’s red kettle.
Below is an overnight update I received from a Community Matters reader:
From Mr. Roboto:
More news in the “Daily Local” about the effort to help The Salvation Army restock on food in order to feed needy families this Holiday Season. In an article on page A3 called “Salvation Army’s Plight Unites Rally Rivals”, we learn that two deeply divided groups have found the “reason for the season” by putting aside their differances to help out.
For years, the Chester County Peace Movement and their opponents, the American Sheepdogs, have faced off against one another by staging rival rallies outside the Courthouse in West Chester. This Saturday, however, these doves and hawks are banding together to collect food donations for The Salvation Army.
So, if you happen to be headed to West Chester this Saturday (December 18th), be sure to bring some cans of food or dry goods to the the corner of High Street and Market Street between 11:00 a.m. and Noon.