More than Red Kettles and Tax Deductions

Dancing Bell Ringers at Rockefeller Center

What do you think of when you think of the Salvation Army?  Until recently, I thought about their famous red kettles and the place where I donated clothes to get my year end tax deduction.  This September though, I had the privilege of visiting the Salvation Army’s Eastern Territorial Headquarters and hearing about the variety of good works the Salvation Army does.

I knew that the Salvation Army was active in the community, providing shelter, meals, and help for the addicted, but I’m ashamed to say that I was not aware of the depth of services they provide.  The Salvation Army has a dual mission: to preach the Gospel of Christ and to minister to physical needs.  Its clarity of mission has garnered praise and recognition of the Army’s effectiveness as an organization, most notably by business consultant Peter Drucker.  83% of funds donated to the Salvation Army go to its missions; only 17% is used for overhead.  To put that in perspective, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends non profits spend at least 65% of their expenses on programs.

On the spiritual side, the Salvation Army is not an outreach of a denomination- it is a denomination, with worship services and Bible studies.  It is the spiritual belief that salvation should inspire a response of service that drives the organization to do the work of Jesus here on earth.  You may be aware of their Thrift Stores and soup kitchens, but did you know that the Salvation Army also actively combats human trafficking and runs prison rehabilitation ministries?  Add anti-pornography work, educational services for the elderly, and disaster relief to the list.  They even have a Missing Persons service to help reunite families.

What especially impressed me about the gathering I attended, was not only learning more about the important work of the Salvation Army, but seeing the passion, compassion, and caring so evident in the folks I met.  It was clear this was more than a “job” to them; I came away inspired by the dedication they had to their mission of helping the poor and disadvantaged, bringing them both help and hope.

When you see a bell ringer in a store entrance this Christmas, don’t hesitate to drop in a donation.  Rest assured it will be put to good use.  To learn more about the Salvation Army’s mission or to make a gift, visit their website, where you can donate online and specify the community you’d like it to benefit.


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