Army of Stars a hit ‘down under’
THE DAILY POST staff share the prestigious “Others” award presented to the newspaper by The Salvation Army in recognition of the outstanding success of its Christmas Appeal. In the foreground (l-r) are assistant editor Jill Nicholas, general manager Alan Sampson, Captain Ian Knight, Lt. Colonel Peter Savage, editor Robin Mayston and Captain Jill Knight, with Daily Post staff who all played their part in the appeal gathered in the background.
“Army of Stars has been a big hit down under,” said New Zealand Midland Divisional Commander, Lt Colonel Peter Savage.
Extra tapes of the annual holiday program, were shipped to Savage at divisional headquarters in Hamilton, New Zealand, and quickly taken up by corps and social center officers for special distribution over Christmas 2000.
Tapes were played on local radio stations, including the Army’s own gospel radio station in Geyser City, Rotorua, where the sound waves reach as far as Hell’s Gate, a geothermal wonderland at the rural edge of the district.
Special presentations of the beautifully packaged “Army of Stars” tapes were given as gifts to hundreds of thrift store volunteers around the division; generous pub and tavern patrons were given the Army of Stars tape and ex-pressed their appreciation, many contributing in excess of their normal donations.
The community relations officer distributed tapes to special friends of the Army who were encouraged by his thoughtfulness. “A number of substantial gifts have been received resulting from the effort,” says Savage. “One donor gave $10,000 to help Army community work among dysfunctional young people and their families in a rural town.”
In one city, every Christmas basket included an Army of Stars tape. Some tapes were given for use in prison and have resulted in much spiritual challenge and blessing. They were hot property around the division as well; officers who hadn’t ordered sufficient were looking for last-minute orders to bring Christmas cheer to elderly shut-ins and the lonely.
The project was the brain child of Ken Bricknell, THQ volunteer, and Capt. Bob Rudd, Community Relations and Develop-ment secretary. It began a year ago when the offer of extra stock (from 1998 and 1989 recordings) was made available to Savage, who had been a recipient of Army of Stars tapes and CDs for the past 15 years, and knew of the blessing and benefit they would have.
According to Savage, the stories are still coming in of the spiritual lift received by many listeners. “New Zealand thanks US West for sharing Christmas 2000 down under,” he says. “The recordings might have been old but the message contained was timeless!”
Ed. note: The Army of Stars was written, produced, and directed by the Western Territory from 1944-1998, first by Lloyd Docter and then by New Frontier Editor Robert Docter.
Hosts have included Lily Pons, James Earl Jones, Angela Lansbury, Jack Benny, Helen Hayes, Helen Reddy, Walter Cronkite, Bob Hope, Orson Welles, Meredith Wilson, Harry Belafonte, Ronald Reagan, Sidney Portier, and many other celebrities.
The recording is no longer being produced.