by Ashley Seager
When you purchase an item from a Salvation Army Family Store (aka thrift store) the money goes back into the local community. We don’t exist to generate profit so your dollar doesn’t go into the pocket of a CEO. The lamp you bought might mean a hot meal for an individual staying at a shelter, a music lesson for a child at one of our afterschool programs, or another month of electric service while a family works to get back on their feet. Here are 5 things that you make happen when you shop at The Salvation Army.
1. Youth Programs
The Salvation Army across the United States offers after school programs. In Arkansas & Oklahoma our partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America allow us to operate 10 different Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs. We also operate other community centers and afterschool programs too. Almost all locations provide transportation from school to our programs and a snack. Programs focus on character-building and helping kids with their academic achievements. We know that the afternoon hours after school are some of the most dangerous when it comes to kids making poor decisions related to drugs, crime, and sex. When you shop at The Salvation Army, you’re helping kids attend these vital programs; you help keep them safe.
2. Music Programs
Many of our locations offer free music lessons. Music has been important to The Salvation Army for a long time. Our instructors teach kids (and even adults) how to play various musical instruments from trumpet, to guitar, to piano. Many students can even participate in church services or regional bands that The Salvation Army operates where they build relationships with mentors and instructors who help students learn and grow in a environment grounded on faith. Students often get to take an instrument home to practice! (Sorry mom and dad… but it’s worth it!).
3. Community Building Programs
The Salvation Army doesn’t just offer programs for children. Throughout the Arkansas & Oklahoma Division, we regularly hold fun, community events for adults and especially senior citizens. These programs often involve an afternoon meal with tea or coffee. Sometimes there is a discussion, a Bible study, or a devotional thought. But these programs are valuable because of the social connections – the community – that they create. When you buy a lamp at The Salvation Army, you help people continue to feel vitality and purpose. You help them connect with their friends, to share stories, and to make memories.
4. Disaster Services
The Salvation Army responds when disaster strikes. From small local disasters to large natural disasters that involve many states – and many people. When you shop at The Salvation Army, you’re helping to provide this capability in your community. Our Emergency & Disaster Services teams can deploy food service canteens and other important support at a moment’s notice to help those most impacted by disaster. That lamp you bought: now it’s a hot meal for a first responder ensuring the public’s safety or disaster survivor working to get back on their feet.
5. Social Service Vouchers
For those that need the most help, our Family Stores provide free or reduced cost clothing and furniture. When you buy that lamp, you’re providing families with a new sofa after their house burned down; you’re helping a mother with nowhere else to turn keep her growing children clothed; you’re providing a person leaving our rehabilitation program with a suit for their first job interview since getting clean.
That lamp you bought? It’s going to look great in your living room. It’s going to be a great conversation piece. You might wonder who owned it, what their story was, and why they decided to donate something so wonderful to The Salvation Army.
But even more than that, maybe you can think about who you’ve helped. What is the story of the family whose life you helped change? You’ve done more than buy a lamp. You’ve made a difference.