Loran Smith: This Christmas, I am going to do something for the Salvation Army

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Loran Smith: This Christmas, I am going to do something for the Salvation Army

Loran Smith
Loran Smith

With the coming of December there is that inevitable Christmas rush.   It seems that the startup begins before Thanksgiving and never lets up.  Shoppers are on the move all day and early evening, horns bleating, voices sounding forth, creating an energized cacophony that includes the signature bells of Salvation Army volunteers ringing faintly in the atmosphere.

Those bells have been pealing since 1865 in London where the organization got its start and then spread joyfully across the world, thanks to the old British Empire, with a Protestant mission to help those in need.





All Christian societies philosophically preach selflessness, but few are as pure as the Salvation Army which is an organization that “gives of itself” like no other.

There is a two-fold significance of the bell ringing on the street corners and shopping centers of at least 133 countries across the world.  Proceeds—including the small change givers—add up which enables the Army to do more for more people.

There is greater significance, however.  The bell ringing routine is one of the significant substantial fund-raising efforts by the Army.  Unfortunately, a small crisis has come about.  There are not enough volunteer bell ringers.  I am familiar with that concern with the Athens Salvation Army unit, owing to a friendship with a local Army volunteer and board member, Rev. Charlie Maddox.





Recently, Charlie introduced me to the husband-wife team of Sheldon and Nicole Greenland, who are both Captains with the Army.   The more you learn about the Greenland’s, the more you appreciate people who get the ultimate satisfaction from doing for others.

Their jobs are certainly not high paying, and the hours are long, like all day, seven days a week, most weeks.  However, they accumulate emotional wealth from their work and consider extending a helping hand in the community a major dividend in their lives.  They are the butcher-the baker-the-candlestick-maker-jacks-of-all-trade all rolled into one, or shall we say, “two.”  Outside the Smart Dawgs on the UGA campus, they are the greatest team in town.

If the cook doesn’t make it in for work one morning, guess who takes the duty?  Nicole, of course.  When small maintenance is needed for the buildings or grass needs to be cut, Sheldon includes those chores on his list which seldom contains any white space.  

They are raising four happy and smiling children Azariah, Anael, Ahavah, and Avishai—all A’s if you note—which are the grades the Greenland’s get in all that they do for their community.  In this environment one could forecast that they have engendered a foursome of future leaders for some communities, somewhere.  That calls for an ovation even if you are in your easy chair when you connect with that heartwarming information.

There are many highlights of the Army’s operation in Athens.  There are shelters with 74 beds—for men, women, and families.  And, living there is free.  There are rules which are not very stringent.  You can’t come in drinking; you must be drug free.  You must be out of the shelter by 8:00 a.m., hopefully to find gainful employment.  You can return by 4:30 p.m. for dinner and the night.

In the past, more than 70 people who were down and out and showed up at one of the Army’s shelters have “graduated” to some form of permanent housing.  The Salvation Army plan, in one community, is working wonders for the homeless and those with critical survival needs.

While on the premises, you have chores, one of the most significant is to do your own laundry.  Residents are required to shower daily, and to help clean up the kitchen after meals.  When your tab is zero, that is not a bad arrangement.

Two local citizens are especial friends of the Salvation Armory—Phyllis Barrow Nelson and the previously mentioned Charlie Maddox.  They have been long time board members, trying to help the organization with its fund-raising objectives which are to help raise $38,000 dollars monthly to keep the organization solvent. 

“Our city is fortunate to have many individuals and organizations that generously support our cause,” Maddox says.  “However, a big financial void remains.   We will continue to pursue funding from local government and major charitable organizations.  Volunteering as a bell ringer is a way local individuals can get involved.  That would help us a lot.”

You can “adopt an angel” and make a kid very happy at Christmas.   The Army sees that over a thousand kids get toys and clothes for this important holiday.  Nobody extends a helping hand like the Army.

This Christmas, I am going to do something for the Salvation Army and hope that you will, too.





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