COVID-19 Salvation Army command updates: March 30

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Western Territorial Commander Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder held a teleconference meeting March 30 with members of the Territorial Executive Council, the ninth of such meetings regarding The Salvation Army’s response to COVID-19

During the week of March 30-April 3, command heads will continue to meet via teleconference on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Before hearing updates from four commands, Hodder shared several announcements. Following President Donald Trump’s announcement on March 29 to extend the nation’s stay-at-home guidelines until April 30, Hodder told command leaders The Salvation Army will continue in Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) mode until that time. 

He urged command leaders to follow all of the CDC’s recommended precautions and remain conscious in the month of April of the needs that will develop. 

“This is going to be a critical time,” Hodder said. “I know, as we have always seen, that our territory will rise to the occasion.”

Leaders from the Alaska, California South, Cascade and Del Oro divisions then presented three-minute reports, including the biggest change and biggest need in the same order in which they presented last week.  

In Alaska, cases of COVID-19 have more than quadrupled since last week, Divisional Commander Major John Brackenbury said, noting that the state, and the Army, has been preparing based upon what it has learned from the lower 48 states. 

“The wave is moving up to the north and we are now seeing those effects,” Brackenbury said.  

Officials are concerned with Alaska’s lack of hospital bed space, so they are taking the mandatory hunker down declaration, that does not allow any movement within the state, very seriously, Brackenbury said. 

The Salvation Army has partnered with the city of Anchorage to be able to lodge homeless families and feed them as well. The Army is also working with the city of Anchorage for places to house those with confirmed cases. In Juneau, a city partnership for feeding those experiencing homelessness has taken off. 

Another team from the Army is making shipments to villages who have been without food since the ferry system went down last fall. 

The California South Division received a shipment of 60,000 medical masks and donated the shipment to a local hospital. Across the division, the need for food boxes is up. In Riverside (California), the need was around 50 boxes a day. Now, it’s at 250 boxes a day. 

Additionally, the division has received advertising from LA news station KTLA, and several large donations from local donors and foundations to help the Army’s COVID-19 response. 

In the Cascade Division, needs for food boxes have also increased by 30 percent, Divisional Commander Major Nancy Dihle said.

Throughout the division, Army facilities have been requested by officials for various uses. The Newport (Oregon) Corps has been requested for use as medical storage. 

The Salem (Oregon) Kroc Center has hired staff from the Boys and Girls Club to increase hours. The Kroc Center is offering childcare for children of essential personnel. In Boise, the Army received a grant from the Albertson’s Family Foundation for childcare. 

The division is preparing its camp so those in its residential programs can get outside on a rotation. For some it feels like the “walls are closing in,” Dihle said. Having time outside in a safe space will aim to boost morale and mental health. 

In the Del Oro Division, food needs are also up, but the division has a “great pipeline of food” from the Sacramento County Food Bank. The Army has been asked to serve at a homeless shelter in Clear Lake, California, an area that is more remote. It has also been asked to coordinate feeding at an emergency shelter in Napa County. 

Del Oro Divisional Commander Major Ivan Wild said he has set up a Zoom conference with all officers to see how they’re doing along with a separate call with officers who oversee shelters.  

Wild added he has been impressed by the creativity of the division’s corps in ministering to people. He said one corps started with 50 children receiving food bags and instructions for troop emblems, and now it’s up to 180 children participating in the program. “That’s really exciting to see,” he said.

Hodder expressed appreciation to all command heads for all they are doing to manage the work of The Salvation Army. He read from Romans 8:31-39 before closing in prayer. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”



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