Every year the retailers issue forecasts predicting sales. These projections are taken by many economists as leading indicators of the condition of the American economy. Much less is heard about the contributions made during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons to the Salvation Army. That's too bad. The money and goods donated might be viewed as an indicator which signifies whether our country still hews to the Judeo-Christian value of looking out for one's fellow man.
The Salvation Army steps in to help people in countless ways. Whether it involves providing backpacks filled with school supplies for kids in Macomb County, Michigan whose parents have low incomes to providing a married couple with a needed tank of gas so they could travel to their jobs, the Salvation Army is a continual provider of goods and services to many in need.
The Salvation Army does not turn its back on anyone who needs help. Not everyone can become a Salvation Army officer. Each aspirant must sign the Salvation Army "Articles of War" in which the aspirant pledges his or her belief in the Old and New Testament and to "uphold Christian integrity in every area in all my relationships with others, my family and neighbors, my colleagues and fellow Salvationists, those to whom and for whom I am responsible, and the wider community." That missionary zeal on behalf of Judeo-Christian principles is too often missing in our society, sometimes in our churches, synagogues and charities.
One early mission of the Salvation Army was to prevent young women from becoming prostitutes. That missionary work continues with PROMISE -- the Partnership to Rescue Our Minors from Sexual Exploitation. Believe it or not, the Salvation Army says, "In the U.S. an estimated 244,000-325,000 children are currently being emotionally, physically and spiritually devastated through the sex trade, and very little is being done to stop it."
The Salvation Army's PROMISE model in Chicago seeks to galvanize the governmental and voluntary sectors of the community in a crusade to make the citizenry and also law enforcement more aware of sex trafficking.
Every month in Chicago members of a task force comprised of twenty-two governmental, law enforcement and social service agencies meet in the Cook County Courthouse to discuss strategies and tactics to combat prostitution. The Salvation Army promoted the concept of forming the task force and persuaded the different organizations and agencies to buy into it.
Many citizens fail to realize how widespread the prostitution business is or how brutal it can be, particularly for the children or young men and women recruited into it. Often they are immigrants brought to this country with no real knowledge of English or they come from fractured family backgrounds. Unthinkable as it may be, some children can have their sex changed and then be "pimped out." Now court officials in Chicago are more cognizant that the truant from school or homeless person is a victim of the sex trade. When they realize the underlying problem is prostitution the officials can provide help to the victim.
A Department of Justice grant announced late last week will help the Salvation Army expand nationwide the Chicago model of PROMISE.
The Salvation Army holds itself up to the standard of "doing the most good." The Salvation Army is one organization that says what it means and does what it says. This holiday season there are many presents to buy. No gift stretches further than a modest gift in the kettle or donation at a service center. Keep the Army and the hard-working men and women in your prayers this holiday season. Let's not forget the forgotten, rejected and impoverished in our society nor those who extend a helping hand to them.