Salvation Army Extends Helping Hands
Byline: Rachel Baruch Yackley
The Salvation Army needs YOU!
Toys and clothing and coins filling kettles - these are just a few of the things needed by the Salvation Army Tri-City Corps, which serves families and individual residents of all ages in St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.
Right this moment, additional volunteers are still needed to help with the Red Kettle Holiday Fundraising Campaign, ringing bells and collecting donations.
Kettles can be found in 30 locations throughout St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.
"We did lose two Target locations, but we picked up a few more, including Grimm's Hallmark in St. Charles," said local Salvation Army Capt. Roxanne Spencer. "We have also added countertop kettles in a couple locations."
Pocket change is always welcome. But as happens every season, those infamous gold coins have begun to appear in the kettles, too. Three such coins have been donated at two sites: the Jewel grocery store at Randall Road and Prairie Street in St. Charles, and outside the Merra-Lee Shop at Third and State streets in Geneva.
This year, the kettle program is getting a huge boost. The Salvation Army recently announced that it has received a matching gift commitment from Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
The Wal-Mart and Sam's Club Foundation will match customers' contributions made to Salvation Army Red Kettles at more than 3,600 Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam's Clubs nationwide through Christmas Eve, up to $1 million, which will go to serve needy families in more than 9,000 communities.
Spencer and her husband, Daren, are the new captains at our local Salvation Army. They came here last July, taking over for Capts. Todd and Catherine Thielke, who were transferred to North Platte, Neb.
Daren and Roxanne are both originally from Michigan, but didn't meet until college, at Indiana Wesleyan University.
It was than that Daren first became involved in the Salvation Army, although he said that "Roxanne was involved in it all her life. Her parents went to a Salvation Army church, so she was always a part of it."
Following college, Daren and Roxanne married, and moved to Rochester, Minn., where they worked for the Salvation Army for three years, before moving on to the regional headquarters in Minneapolis, where they worked another three years.
While in Minnesota, the Spencers' two children were born: Allison, who is a first-grader at Davis Elementary School, and Zoe, who will turn 3 years old next month.
Daren Spencer said that he was drawn to join the Salvation Army because "It just felt right, like something God wanted me to be. There was always a feeling of acceptance at the Salvation Army. It didn't matter where you came from. And they always reached out to people through music, which drew me, as I have a (bachelor's) degree in music education."
Before coming here to St. Charles, the Spencers attended the Salvation Army training center in Chicago.
"The Salvation Army officers are actually the pastors, administrators, and everything else," explained Daren Spencer. "Those within the Salvation Army as their church, refer to us as captains. But they usually explain to people outside the church that we are their pastors."
Although Spencer said that what he does changes day-to-day, typically he oversees all the programming, and works on preparing for the Sunday programs he is directly involved with, such as Sunday services and music programs.
Spencer also oversees the Army's character-building programs.
He also walks through the building quite a bit, checking on what's going on, and seeing how everyone is doing.
"A lot of programs that happen here aren't things we're running," Spencer said. "We're just providing space to do it, like WIC and Golden Diners, so it's important to talk with them and see how they are doing."
"We are a church; we're just a little better known for the (outreach) we do. The good thing about that is people know if they need help, they can come here. We don't just help poor people, but anyone in crisis," he said.
Learning the ropes of such a large organization can be daunting, but fortunately, "We've got a good staff in place," Roxanne Spencer said. "We really rely on the staff and the volunteers."
Meeting the needs of the community is what the Salvation Army is all about. From hosting the recent Lazarus House Thanksgiving dinner to offering the facility's beautiful chapel for weddings, this organization gives so much to so many.
Currently the entire gym of the Salvation Army on South Seventh Avenue, as well as the adjacent classroom space, is filled with new toys, clothing, books, and pretty much anything kids would need or love to have, thanks to the multitude of donations from the community, as well as those received through the Toys for Tots program.
"This is our general Toy Shop area," said Spencer. "Families (who qualify) can come by and pick out whatever Christmas gifts their children need.
The Salvation Army's annual Angel Tree Program is another holiday program which is continuing this year. The Angel Tree is filled with specific items requested by families and individuals who receive assistance from the Salvation Army. This is a project which encourages community participation, as anyone is welcome to stop by, pick a request off the tree, fill that request, and drop it off.
In addition, anyone in the community is encouraged to "adopt" a child or family in need and provide either needed items or a greatly appreciated holiday dinner, at this time of the year.
Speaking of volunteers, more are always needed, particularly to help in the facility's food pantry, which is open Mondays through Fridays, all year long.
Some of the community assistance services offered by the Salvation Army, in addition to the food pantry, include senior exercise programs; health checks and assistance from the Visiting Nurses Association; as well as assistance for women and infants through a program the Salvation Army coordinates with WIC (Women, Infants and Children). The local Salvation Army also houses an after-school program, and a day camp program in the summer.
Roxanne Spencer explained that "We have an application process which determines who will get selected for each program." For example, she said, "We manage funds for FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and are able to provide emergency assistance for that. We have our own funds also, to help, like the prescription fund. And we connect people with other resources in the community."
With all of this organization's programs, it's no surprise that monetary donations are needed throughout the year. The kettles are the receptacles for much of the funds which are dispersed and used in programs all year round.
Money raised also help to cover the Salvation Army's operating costs.
Donations are welcome anytime, and can always be mailed in or dropped off at the Salvation Army Tri-City Corps, 1710 S. Seventh Ave., St. Charles, IL 60174.
"We welcome any help people can give, not only at holiday time. We just need to constantly increase our funds. It's an ongoing thing for us," said Roxanne Spencer, who added, "It gets tight at the end of the year with helping people."
If you would like to learn more about what the Salvation Army does, and even become involved as a volunteer, she invites you to stop by and check out the facility.
"A lot of people don't realize how many things we do here. Come and take a tour of the building," she said. "We're more than happy to show people around and give ideas of how to get involved."
Call the Salvation Army Tri-City Corps at (630) 377-2769 to learn more about the programs and how you can help.
- To contact Rachel Baruch Yackley with future column ideas, send e-mail to mry98@@aol.com.…
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Publication information: Article title: Salvation Army Extends Helping Hands. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL). Publication date: December 22, 2004. Page number: 1. © 2009 Paddock Publications. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.