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20 good things that happened in 2020

It’s no secret 2020 has been challenging. In a year repeatedly deemed “unprecedented” for the breadth of its hardships, it’s not hard to find them: the sheer influx of those in need of help providing for their family’s basic needs. The loneliness of maintaining a social distance. The impending “eviction avalanche” when moratoriums lift and those who have been scrambling will be expected to cover much of this year’s rent and mortgage payments. 

Still, in a complex year full of grief, good things have happened, too. The Caring team compiled a list of favorite stories—20 good things that happened this year. What would you add? 

1. Penguins explored Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium
When the Shedd Aquarium closed to visitors, it opened up the possibility for the aquarium’s penguins to explore and encounter creatures they wouldn’t otherwise! 

2. There was ‘Some Good News’
In response to actor John Krasinski’s Some Good News series, The Salvation Army’s Echelon Chapter in San Diego launched its own Some Good News effort, through which members decided to be part of the spreading of feel-good content on behalf of The Salvation Army. Eyo Toe, a graduate student at Point Loma Nazarene University and one of San Diego Echelon’s public relations chairpersons, joined in by reading children’s books for the Autism Tree Project Foundation video series

3. Barcelona opera performed for a full house—of plants
While human audiences weren’t an option due to COVID-19, the Barcelona opera got creative in order to fill seats. The opera house hosted its first live audience and performed its first concert post-lockdown to nearly 2,300 plants from local nurseries. 

4. The COVID-19 vaccine went public
A 90-year-old grandmother became the first person in the U.K. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on what has been declared “V-Day.” Second to receive the vaccine was a man named William Shakespeare, hailing from the same county in England as the bard himself.

5. Released prisoners found recovery
Thanks to a partnership between The Salvation Army and Prison Fellowship, nearly 18,000 incarcerated individuals in California released early due to coronavirus were given the opportunity to apply to The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) program upon release. The ARC program offers a safe place to re-enter society amid the pandemic and the tools to fight addiction.

6. A ‘blizzard’ of giving hit Minnesota
Minnesotans paid it forward over the course of several days at a Dairy Queen in Brainerd, Minnesota by picking up the tab for their fellow ice cream enthusiasts. By the time the giving streak was broken, over 900 people had paid more than $10,000 forward.

7. Millennials gave back
Despite being the generation perhaps hardest-hit financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, 3 out of 4 millennials donated to a nonprofit or financially supported their friends and family this year. That’s the highest rate among all generations polled, with Gen Z close behind, followed by Gen X and Baby Boomers.

8. Homeless veterans found home
The Salvation Army in Colorado Springs, Colorado, partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand its services—nearly doubling its shelter and housing capacity to serve 43 veterans.

9. Unrest led to discourse—and action
In the midst of the civil unrest, racial tension and violence that erupted across the country this year, the leadership team at The Salvation Army’s Phoenix Kroc Center in Arizona knew they wanted to do more than just talk about making a difference; they wanted to take action. The officer team of Captains Dustin and Caroline Rowe, along with Lt. Jayerica Tumale, launched a gathering of influencers to talk about issues facing the local Black community and how the Kroc Center could be a continued beacon of hope, light and life in the neighborhood for years to come.

10. Learning centers removed barriers to distance learning
In Inglewood, California, The Salvation Army partnered with Cornerstone West Los Angeles church to offer a safe space for kids to complete their distance learning. Families without access to reliable internet, electronic devices or supervision for children whose parents needed to work could visit a learning center to complete their online lessons.

11. VBS was a ‘Backyard Adventure’
When 9-year-old Evie Downs learned that Vacation Bible School (VBS) would be canceled due to COVID-19, she took matters into her own hands. Rather than miss out on the fun, Evie created Backyard Adventure, a self-paced VBS program that was released on Facebook for others to join.

12. The Salvation Army supported migrant field workers
While migrant field workers were deemed essential and continued to work throughout the pandemic, many were ineligible to receive COVID-19 relief benefits, unemployment or food stamps due to “nonresident alien” status. The Salvation Army in Stockton, California, stepped in to bridge this gap by providing food boxes, face masks, COVID tests, and other essential supplies to struggling workers.

13. Twitch kept youth programs alive
In Reno, Nevada, The Salvation Army used Twitch to keep youth programs alive during the COVID-19 pandemic. The live video streaming service gave them a unique opportunity to continue their youth ministry, while also introducing new audiences to The Salvation Army.

14. A help line offered hope to human trafficking survivors
The Salvation Army in Billings, Montana, partnered with Her Campaign, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit, to offer resources and support to survivors of human trafficking. A new billboard in Billings, where human trafficking is on the rise, promotes the Hope Line, a 24-hour helpline survivors can call for help.

15. GivingTuesday saw unprecedented giving
In a year repeatedly deemed unprecedented, GivingTuesday was no exception. The global day of giving saw a 25 percent increase in donations, totaling a whopping $2.47 billion in the United States alone.

16. Animal caretakers received support as wildfires raged
When wildfires forced evacuations, the Double S Horse Ranch opened its space for both animals and people to stay on its property in Clovis, California. And the menagerie came—horses, pigs, llamas, goats, chickens and even a donkey. In partnership with The Salvation Army, the family who owned the ranch fed evacuees, and volunteers cared for the animals and first responders.

17. Project Roomkey housed the homeless
A downtown Los Angeles hotel transformed into a Salvation Army-run shelter as part of Project Roomkey, a collaborative effort to secure hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

18. Truckers’ Table kept supply drivers fed
The Salvation Army in Albany, Oregon, set up Truckers’ Table to provide free meals for truckers, as many of these essential workers had trouble finding somewhere to park and get a hot meal amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first 10 days, Truckers’ Table provided 200 meals to truckers.

19. Healthcare workers got a free caffeine boost
When the pandemic hit earlier this year, Starbucks vowed to give first responders and healthcare workers a free cup of coffee to thank them for their work—serving up more than 2 million free cups from March to May. During the month of December, Starbucks is back at it, offering free coffee to frontline workers as a holiday treat.

20. Balcony concerts kept seniors engaged
Residents at The Salvation Army’s Silvercrest residence for seniors in Chula Vista, California, got front row seats to weekly concerts, all from the comfort and safety of their own balconies. Resident Wellness Director Karin Ingrande held concerts in the parking lot each week as a way to keep seniors engaged and active while quarantined, even distributing sheet music to their doors for sing-alongs. 

Looking for a way to do good in the new year? Take our quiz to find out where you can make the biggest impact in the fight for good. 


Do Good:

  • Do you have a hard time telling people what you do, or what you’re passionate about and why? Ever stared at a blinking cursor, unsure of what to say or where to start? Or do you avoid writing altogether because you’re “not creative enough”? Take our free email course and find your story today. 
  • Are you a Do Gooder, someone who cares about bringing goodness into the life of your family and community? Subscribe to The Do Gooders Podcast to be inspired by those doing good and find tangible tips for simple actions you can take today.
  • See how you can get involved in the Fight for Good with The Salvation Army.
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