Thursday, July 07, 2011

Thursday Thrift: The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a huge name in thrift shopping. They are a Protestant faith based Christian organization founded in 1865 by William Booth and his wife Catherine. They preached to the poor and sought donations from the wealthy, adopted their own military style uniforms and flags, and reached out to the people through the three S's: soup, soap, salvation. Catherine Booth was considered a minister, which was highly unusual for the time.

Today, you should recognize them at Christmas, ringing their bells beside the red kettles. They are also involved in musical ensembles, a large chain of thrift stores, disaster relief, family tracing service, and youth groups. Since Hurricane Katrina hit, they have donated almost $400 million dollars in relief funds, in addition to mobilizing immediately after the disaster to operate 178 food units and 11 field kitchens where they have served nearly 6 million meals. The family tracing service is devoted to assisting people in reconnecting with lost loved ones.

Even with all the positive things surrounding this organization, they have not been immune to controversy. I won't go into the details, but like most every organization, they have their dark moments. Suffice to say, they are slowly progressing with our fast changing world.

If you would like to donate to this charity, you can do any number of things. They train volunteers to work for the stores of course. But, they also will accept used cars, airline miles, clothing, furniture, household goods, and monetary gifts. When I shop at Salvation Army, I like to think that all of my money goes to the Adult Rehabilitation Centers, an in-house rehabilitation program that provides participants with a clean, safe living environment, healthy food, work therapy, individual and group counseling, spiritual counseling, and resources to rejoin the working world as a better person. Two people very close to me attended ARC back in the early 90's for drug and alcohol treatment. Without that program, I don't know that they would have lived much longer, so I am very thankful to them even if I don't agree with some of the politics.

Click the link at the top to go to their website to find out more about this organization. Maybe there is a Salvation Army near you!

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