Army assists the White House

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Little-known program provides local aid.

President Ronald Reagan addresses a White House meeting of religious leaders held in 1972. Commissioner John D. Needham attended the meeting. [Photo courtesy of The Salvation Army National Archives]

“Most people are not aware of a program we have,” said Major George Hood, national community relations and development secretary, “that goes back to the Nixon White House.”

Hood explained: “The White House receives tons of mail—they sort 30,000 to 50,000 letters a day—from people wanting assistance. The letters are routed to the government office most likely to provide help. At the end of the day, there is a stack [left over] filled with social service needs, and they come to us.”

The National Community Relations and Development department distributes the mail to the divisional commanders (DC) throughout the country in the area where the writer lives. Most often, they are requests for basic needs—clothing, food, and so on.

“We ask the DC to investigate and have the Army handle the situation locally, and to then let us know what they did. We in turn let the White House know,” he said.

Hood noted that The Salvation Army acts on behalf of the president. While it is a service they accomplish directly with the government, the Army receives no recompense. “They put their trust in our hands,” Hood said.

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