The Salvation Army. One of the biggest and most widely known charities in the United States, and, quite possibly, the world. Every year, usually about mid-November the little red kettles appear the the bell ringing begins. If you’re like me, you donate on occasion…usually when you’ve just paid cash at whatever establishment they are jingling outside of. Have you ever thought about volunteering to be a bell ringing? Have you ever wondered what the Salvation Army is all about or, perhaps, where your donations go? Well, you’re about to find out!
The History: The Salvation Army began in 1865 by William Booth, a London minister, who wished to take his message to the streets so it would reach the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute. When he discovered the disquiet caused by the disheveled joining services with the prim and proper he found a church especially for the destitute–the East London Christian Mission. The name of the Salvation Army was born of the church’s mission in which they described the mission as a: salvation army.
The Now: The Salvation Army has, obviously, grown in strength and numbers in 148 years. It is now an international movement run by General Andre Cox, providing hundreds of programs and services to those in need. The most noticeable of its efforts are the cooperative projects with international relief agencies (providing food, water, basic needs, etc to victims of natural disasters, genocide, lack of resources, etc.) and providing provisions, housing, and basic daily needs to people in need. In addition, the “Army” provides addiction counseling and family tracing for those looking to located relatives with whom they’ve lost contact. As a part of it’s christian mission, the Salvation Army, uses sports and social work to build relationships, find connections, and “help the people and communities to enjoy healthy lives in bodies, minds, and souls.”
Where Your Money Goes: According to the Salvation Army website, $0.84 of each dollar donated “is used to sustain life changing programs that bring hope to hurting souls”. The breakdown shows that 84% goes to programs & services, 6% to administration, and 10% to fundraising. The Salvation Army relies on the community’s support for many of it’s programs, and claim that the “Army” receives more financial support from the general public than any other charity in America. All funds and gifts are used in the donor’s region unless the donor requests something different, and the donor may designate which programs/services receive the donation.
I Want To Ring The Bell: If you are interested in ringing the bell, volunteers are always appreciated. You can sign up at your local Salvation Army or on your regional Salvation Army’s website (KC area ringers can sign up here). The Salvation Army also hires bell ringers for all day assignments–these are usually people trying to make ends meet but still want to give back to their community.
Want To Donate?: If you are interested in donating to the Salvation Army you can do so at anytime on their website or your regional Salvation Army’s website. You can also use the regional website to locate donation centers and kettle locations in your area.