Local Salvation Army effort needs community support

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 15, 2019

NATCHEZ — Local leaders and community members have expressed a great need to bring a local Salvation Army office back to Natchez, but it takes a lot more than ringing a bell to make that happen, said Brenda Kates, the service center director of the Salvation Army Southwest Mississippi regional office.

The Natchez chapter of the Salvation Army formerly located on Canal Street closed its doors in November 2010 due to slow thrift store sales and a large number of break-ins. However, Kates said a local office will come back to Natchez with the community’s support.

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“The main thing is funding, volunteers and commitment,” Kates said. “For us to get a local office here, it has to be self-supportive. How it becomes self-supportive is through monetary donations, gifts-in-kind and with help from volunteers.”

Kates said the Salvation Army regional office supplies emergency financial assistance, clothing, food, lodging and disaster assistance to families in need to seven Mississippi counties as well as Concordia and Catahoula parishes in Louisiana.

However, for those families to receive that assistance they have to drive to the office in McComb and fill out an application — which a lot of families don’t have the resources to do, Kates said.

A lot of the support needed could come from a resource network comprised of church groups and other charitable organizations, Kates said.

Larry Woods Sr., director of the men’s ministry division of the AMB Association, said his ministry and local churches have already supported the cause in recent months.

“Everyone in the association is doing what they can, but we need everyone else on board with the project,” Woods said. “We did the stuff a bus back in August and distributed 16,000 back to school items to all schools in Adams County so if children needed something for school their parents wouldn’t have to get it for them. It was already there.”

Salvation Army has partnered with Pilgrim Baptist Church to provide Thanksgiving turkey and hams next Wednesday to pre-approved families, Kates said.

The largest show of support for the Salvation Army takes place during the holiday season with red kettle donations outside of Walmart, Kates said.

Adams County brings in approximately $20,000 each year with red kettle donations but needs to gather at least double the funds to establish a new center in Natchez, Kates said.

“We really want to increase our kettle donations to somewhere around $45,000 or more to have a location here,” she said. “That is our biggest fundraiser of the year and $20,000 is not enough.”

Local businesses may also choose to sponsor a red kettle with their donation by Monday, Nov. 18, to receive a sponsorship sign.

Kates said Callon Petroleum and Supermarket Operations have already contributed and would have sponsorship signs outside of the Natchez Walmart on Dec. 6.

Donations will continue to be accepted after Monday, however a sign is not guaranteed, she said.

Groups who would like to volunteer at a red kettle may call 601-807-9044.

Others who wish to contribute to the Salvation Army may mail their donations to P.O. Box 488 McComb, MS 39649 or simply drop a donation in the red kettle. Natchez volunteers will start ringing bells by the red kettle outside of Walmart on Nov. 29, Kates said. For additional information or to sponsor a kettle, call Kates at 601-600-2020.