Pillars of Strength

In the midst of horrific tragedy, stories of survival, strength and compassion are emerging. The Salvation Army is on the grounds, amongst the chaotic pile of rubble that once were homes and schools. There is no doubt, mourning is taking place in staggering numbers on the streets of Moore, Oklahoma tonight. The Salvation Army, known for its on-site food and hydration services, is quietly serving those who have been deeply affected by the storms with a team of trained stress management persons.

About two hours after the tornado hit, Major Steve Morris, Divisional Commander, was checking on The Salvation Army’s local church members. Upon entering the disaster site, he remembered that a soldier of the Oklahoma City Corps lived in the affected area. Concerned, he made his way to their residence to check on their health and welfare. Upon knowing all were okay, he prayed.

On Wednesday, Emotional and Spiritual Care teams had the opportunity to pray with 604 individuals while making contact with many others. Providing hope and compassion, be it a bottle of water and encouraging smile, or simply an open ear to hear stories of survival, The Salvation Army is a pillar of strength for those whose walls have literally crumbled around them.

Even while volunteers, employees and officers are on the ground in Oklahoma helping both those who are responding and those affected, The Salvation Army leadership is in prayer for all. International Leader of The Salvation Army, General Linda Bond sent the following note to share with her teams in Oklahoma:

“You will know that the Army world will be praying tomorrow, and of course, the people of Moore, Oklahoma will be placed before our Salvationists for prayer. How grateful I am to Salvationists who immediately moved into action and will continue to give the kind of practical service that resonates with the heart of Jesus. We are honoured to be linked with your people. God bless you richly.”

Meeting Unique Needs in Oklahoma

May 22, 2013
by Will Hale

Having lost everything in the Moore, Oklahoma tornado on Monday, the woman in the above photo along with her husband and child had only the clothes on their backs. Major Steve Morris of The Salvation Army counseled and prayed with the family and coordinated material assistance to help them get back on their feet.

Since Monday’s devastating storm, The Salvation Army has been helping families and individuals like this with food, hydration, and other basic needs, in addition to spiritual and emotional counseling.

The ministry of The Salvation Army is a unique part of our Emergency Disaster Services (EDS), but is oftentimes the service that provides the most comfort to disaster survivors. In an effort to better meet the emotional needs of Moore residents, an additional 14 Salvation Army officers from Florida traveled to Oklahoma to assist the Emotional and Spiritual Personnel already serving on the ground.

Working with partner organizations like the Southern Baptist Association and the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army in Oklahoma and Arkansas has been preparing and distributing meals and snacks to those affected by the tornado. EDS crews are also prepared to provide clean-up kits, hygiene kits, shower units and first-aid supplies, among other material assistance, to Oklahoma residents in need. 

If you would like to support The Salvation Army’s disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma, please visitwww.SalvationArmyUSA.org to donate. For other ways to give, click here.

“The Salvation Army is grateful for the continued support of the American people as we work to serve all of those impacted by this tragedy,” said Major Ron Busroe, National Community Relations & Development Secretary.

Deadly Tornadoes Strike Moore, OK

May 21, 2013 – 2:10 AM – Oklahoma City, OK – The Salvation Army is on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma with multiple canteens and personnel coordinating with Local and State Emergency Management to serve first responders and those affected by the tornado.    We continue to provide service to hard hit areas from yesterdays’ storms which include Shawnee – multiple sites, Carney area, and Cleveland County.

Meals and hydration are being provided for first responders and those affected.   Major Steve Morris, Arkansas-Oklahoma Divisional Commander has been driving around the affected area.    Major Morris states “The devastation is far reaching both in human life, property and livestock loss.  The Salvation Army is honored to serve and provide sustenance to first responders involved in search and rescue, coordination efforts and more.  And, of course, all survivors will be provided spiritual and emotional care.”

Canteens involved in the response from Oklahoma include Central Oklahoma Area Command (Oklahoma City), Ardmore, Enid, Lawton, McAlester and Muskogee.  Also, disaster response teams from Pine Bluff, Jonesboro and Hot Springs, Arkansas are en route to the Oklahoma City metropolitan area to assist in response.  Personnel from across the division are also traveling to the area to form a Divisional Incident Command Team (which helps coordinate the overall response for The Salvation Army).  Central Oklahoma Area Command has established a local Incident Command team for response.

The Salvation Army is ready to provide the services mentioned above for as long as we are needed.  Additional updates will be provided as more information becomes available.  Please follow us at www.twitter.com/SalArmyAOKEDS, www.twitter.com/CindyFullerOKC, www.twitter.com/SalArmyAOK and www.facebook.com/SalArmyAOK for additional information.

Monetary donations are the most critical need as supplies and personnel are mobilized.

  • Donors are encouraged to give online at www.SalvationArmyUSA.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769).
  • You can also text the word “STORM” to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone; to confirm your gift, respond with the word “Yes.”*
  • Donations in the form of checks designated to Oklahoma Tornado Relief may also be mailed to:

The Salvation Army
P.O. Box 12600
Oklahoma City, OK 73157


Your donations make a real difference.

  • A $10 donation feeds a disaster survivor for one day.
  • A $30 donation provides one food box, containing staple foods for a family of four, or one household cleanup kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets and other cleaning supplies
  • A $100 donation can serve snacks and drinks for 125 survivors and emergency personnel at the scene of a disaster
  • A $250 donation can provide one hot meal to 100 people or keep a hydration station operational for 24 hours
  • A $500 donation keeps a Salvation Army canteen (mobile feeding unit) fully operational for one day

Relief for Van Buren County

AR041513The Salvation Army returned to Botkinburg, Arkansas on Friday to continue meal service to first responders, volunteers and those affected by the tornado that struck the small town on Wednesday evening. Initial assessments indicate 33 homes were damaged, while leaving many homes and businesses without power due to multiple downed power lines in the rural community.

The Salvation Army provided 404 meals, 270 drinks and 348 snacks on Thursday and Friday. The Salvation Army feeding efforts are supported in part by a gift from our partners at Southwest Energy. Lt. Russell Clay reports he served a family who watched the home in front of them and behind them receive heavy damage while their home remained unscathed. Although the family was without power, they were out to help their neighbors as soon as the roads became passable.

2AR041513Another volunteer reports he was out with some first responders out on Hardy Hill (an area heavily hit) where they visited with a 97 year old lady outraking her yard while waiting on assistance for a large downed tree over her well. They were able to provide lunch and pray with her as additional assistance arrived.

Local Emergency Management released The Salvation Army crew on Friday afternoon after a surge of community support from fellow neighbors.


Tahlequah Treated to Brass Band Concert

The A-OK Divisional Band had the opportunity to give a concert at Northside Baptist Church in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on April 6th. They were joined by the Divisional Creative Arts team. The concert was excellent, and was well received by the community! The repertoire for the concert covered a wide range of styles, and included pieces with hymns well known inside and outside the Army. The band and drama were able to connect with the audience in a meaningful way, and the gospel was shared throughout. Though Camp Heart O’ Hills has been just outside of Tahlequah since 1929, this is the first time in recent memory that a music group has done outreach in the community.

Opening the concert was Paul Kellner’s “The Risen Savior.” This gave a lot of energy right from the top, and immediately gave the audience  a tune they  were very familiar with. The band then played several other pieces (full list of repertoire is below), before moving into the drama piece titled “Temptations,” and then a testimony from Lt. Claudia Roseno that centered on God’s love. The first half of the concert concluded with Edward Gregson’s major work, “Variations on Laudate Dominum.”

After intermission, the band opened with Norman Bearcroft’s “Southall One Hundred.” They then got the audience involved with William Himes’s “A Gospel Song Sing Along,” led by Captain Nakisha Carr. From there the concert moved into a section devoted to God’s grace. A scripture reading of Romans 5: 12-21 set up a piece by Bandmaster Andrew Barrington titled “His Glorious Grace.” This was followed by a devotion from the Bandmaster, which led in to “Infinite Grace” by Paul Kellner. The concert concluded on a joyful note with Steve Bulla’s “Lift Up Your Voice.”

Thanks to Northside Baptist Church for having us play in their house of worship. Special thanks to Bandmaster Andrew Barrington and Lt. Israel Roseno for leading the band and creative arts. Also special thanks to Rob and Nancy Wallace who put us in contact with their church to make this concert happen. Rob is the Director of Operations at Camp Heart O’ Hills, and Nancy is Director of Guest Services. They have been excellent supporters of Salvation Army music programs over the years.

For more information on the Brass Band programs of The Salvation Army’s A-OK Division, visit http://www.aokmusicandarts.com

story by Jimmy Cox