Salvation Army Extends Helping Hands

Article excerpt

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. …