Extreme Makeover: Home Edition calls on The Salvation Army

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Captain Jim Brickson, Albert Lea, Minn., corps officer; Rebecca Kean, corps intern; Ty Pennington, show host; and Lori Miles, corps youth director, at the Extreme Makeover: Home Editiosite in Albert Lea [Photo by Craig Dirkes].

Staff and volunteers from the Albert Lea, Minn., corps are used to mass feedings during disasters. But for a week this fall they served 300 meals a day in happier surroundings: the set of the ABC reality series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which was filming an episode in town.

The Emmy Award-winning show features designers, contractors and hundreds of workers who have seven days to rebuild an entire home of a family in need.

Captain Jim Brickson, corps officer, worked virtually day and night helping staff and volunteers serve meals, drinks and snacks to hundreds of locals and the show’s staff.

“Everyone was amazed at how fast we’re able to set up, but that’s what we train for,” he said.

The Salvation Army partnered with Albert Lea resident Kim Nelson, who producers asked to coordinate catering three meals a day from local vendors. The Salvation Army helped Nelson serve the meals and keep them warm inside the canteen.

The family of five selected for the episode lived in a dilapidated farmhouse that had mildew, a leaky roof and no insulation. The father lost his arm in a farm accident yet is still able to work as a mechanic. The mother is a teacher at a nearby Christian school and suffers from serious medical conditions.

The captain said although The Salvation Army wouldn’t be on TV when the show airs, that’s not important.

“The community sees us here. That’s what matters,” he said. “As everyone in The Salvation Army knows, we are a ministry of presence.”

From the December 2008 issue of Central Connection

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