The Salvation Army is doing its part to help neighbors in need as the coronavirus continues to interrupt our lives. On Thursday I caught up with Lt. Col. John Chamness, the Divisional Commander of The Salvation Army California South Division, to get a sense of their latest campaign, which they've aptly named, "Let's Fight Together."
The organization's coronavirus response effort consists of two facets, Chamness explained. The first is the sheltering of people. Chamness says that they have 17 sites in which they house over 4,000 individuals, and they've seen a 30 percent increase since the pandemic began. The second facet of their campaign is to provide food to those hardest hit by the coronavirus, especially the elderly.
In his 31 years at the Salvation Army, Chamness has responded to his fair share of wildfires and other natural disasters. But the COVID-19 pandemic he classified as "the most unique disaster" he's ever been a part of, describing it as "a disaster without edges." One in which we don't know where it's going to go, or when it's going to end.
But the current health crisis has yet again put on display the selflessness of donors and volunteers. In terms of essential items, the Salvation Army has accumulated 10,000 rolls of toilet paper and over 20,000 rolls of paper towels to distribute. They've also received 86,000 food boxes. Local churches have been an especially big help and Chamness spoke highly of the partnership they have with those parishes.
The overwhelming response reminded Chamness of the outpouring of compassion he witnessed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. After terrorists flew into New York's Twin Towers and killed nearly 3,000 people, the Salvation Army volunteers helped provide food and feed the first responders at Ground Zero, Chamness recalled. He saw people respond just as warmly during last year's fires in the southland.
We're going to experience "a couple months of inconvenience," Chamness explained. But "at the end we will see a brighter outcome."
"We have a message of hope," he added. "Together we will overcome this."
The Salvation Army recently aired an ad for its "Let's Fight Together" campaign proving that
America can and will beat the coronavirus. It is awfully moving.
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