Christmas ’99 reveals caring
For the past 25 years, in San Francisco, Salvation Army volunteers have delivered holiday meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas when many agencies are closed and seniors are alone without friends or family. Though the program runs year-round, holiday meals hold a special attraction for volunteers. Many come back year after year. Some families bring their children to learn the value of sharing.
On Christmas morning, the Army prepared and delivered over 3,500 meals to the shut-ins and elderly in the city. Over 300 volunteers helped at the Harbor Light Center. Lt. Colonel Bettie Love was successful in obtaining a $10,000 grant from Robertson Stephens company for this community event.
Donations have been coming in from unexpected sources. A panhandler on Geary Street left two dimes and a grateful hug. A businessman in Union Square said, “When I needed help, another agency gave me forms to fill out. You gave me help.”
Because of the growing elderly population in China-town, over 1000 meals were delivered to this area alone. Consequently a significant number of Cantonese-speaking volunteers helped to prepare and deliver the meals.
The Salvation Army in Riverside joined with Apple-bee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar for the Fourth Annual “Breakfast with Santa.” Capt. Guy Hawk gave away gifts through a special opportunity drawing.
The celebrity guest at the Kettle and Angel Tree Kickoff at Galleria Mall was former Los Angeles Dodger, and two-time National League Batting champion, Tommy Davis. Davis said a few words and signed autographs. A guest musician in the Army’s brass ensemble was trombonist Dan Bernstein, a columnist with the Press Enterprise newspaper.
Various reporters and columnists from Inland Empire newspapers (counties of Riverside and San Bernardino) assisted the Army’s Christmas outreach by writing first-person stories after helping man kettles and Angel Trees.
In Victor Valley and Apple Valley, gift donations were collected in Coca-Cola bins at the Wal-Mart stores. Captain Emmanuel Henry-John’s goal was 1,500 toys through this annual event.
The staff of Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center adopted 26 seniors for Christmas and provided them with $20 food certificates. Also, for the third straight year, the West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino purchased gifts for children through the Angel Tree program. This year, 115 children were the beneficiaries of this group’s generosity. The Army’s Christmas center in Red Bluff, Calif., distributed toys and food to over 200 families. Bethel Assembly church helped by giving food to 130 families. Toys were distributed closer to Christmas.
Various radio stations aired Frankie Laine’s new Salvation Army Christmas CD, “When You Hear the Bells.” The nationally syndicated “Music of Your Life” program also aired this special holiday CD over 167 stations. The song, written by Deane Hawley and Frankie Laine, is all about the joy of charitable giving. In addition to Frankie’s vocals, the Salvation Army Kids Singers, from San Diego’s City Heights area, were featured as the background chorus.
In Portland, Ore., the spirit of giving could be seen everywhere.
On Christmas Eve day, Capt. Jeffrey Martin, of the Portland Tabernacle Corps, found a special coin in one of his red kettles–a South African gold Krugerrand. “We could not help but think about the story in the Fred Meyer coloring book about the mysterious donor of a gold coin. We don’t know who the donor is, but we are very grateful for his or her generosity.”
According to Lt. Douglas Riley, of the Moore Street Corps and Community Center, local churches helped provide a Christmas party full of entertainment, food and toys for 1,400 individuals; hair stylists provided free haircuts for 192 children; and the Portland Trail Blazers also lent their support to help make the season one of giving to others.
At Harbor Light Center the local Santa Lucia Club provided a party for the children and families staying in the shelter over the season, with each child receiving treats and gifts. Also, gifts were given to 15 families on Christmas Eve. With the help of 86 volunteers, more than 225 people were served a warm Christmas meal. “Not only was the food hot, but the hearts of the people were warmed by the smiles of the volunteers who helped,” said Major Neal Hogan, center director.
At West Women’s and Children’s Shelter approximately 70 families and single women were served through the domestic violence shelter’s Adopt-a-Family program, 11 giving trees, 30 donor groups and 40 individuals. “All wishes were filled,” said Pat Mohr, program coordinator, “making the best gift of all the feeling that each one of our people was important and wanted.” Other supporters sponsored a barbecue on Christmas Eve and dinner on Christmas Day.