Frontlines — News Briefs of the West
by Captain Robert L. Rudd –
While Frontlines usually highlights officers, soldiers and friends throughout the Western Territory, I am devoting this column entirely to the men and women who served on the front lines in the Littleton, Colo. tragedy.
The divisional commander and his professional staff and volunteers worked under extremely difficult and adverse circumstances, yet accomplished the mission of The Salvation Army with alacrity and joy. Join us in thanking this group for service which brings honor and glory to God.
The following is a recap of the Army’s service during and after the tragedy:
The Salvation Army’s metro Denver Emergency Disaster Director Mike Gelski responded immediately when paged with the information that Columbine High School was under siege by gunmen believed to be fellow students. At approximately 1:15 p.m., Tuesday, April 20, The Salvation Army’s canteen and personnel arrived at the high school.
Shortly after the arrival of the canteen and emergency disaster volunteers, Army officers and staff arrived to assist. Officers counseled families and students at nearby Leawood Elementary School the afternoon and evening of the tragedy.
The canteen and cold truck were both in operation, one to serve the emergency personnel and the other for the general public. The canteen was later moved to the Columbine High School parking lot in the restricted access area to support the investigative and security teams. The cold truck was placed in nearby Clement Park near one of the memorial sites.
Some 15 Salvation Army officers and 30 staff, along with approximately 100 volunteers, provided support through hot meals and counseling to the emergency crews, families, and students for more than a week following the attack serving approximately 15,000 meals since the day of the tragedy. Salvation Army personnel will continue to provide counseling services as long as needed.
On Sunday, April 25, a public memorial service with an estimated crowd of 70,000 people was held in the Mann Theatre’s parking lot, a half mile or so from the makeshift memorial site. Divisional Commander Lt. Colonel Harold Brodin asked all metro Denver Salvation Army officers to attend the memorial service. During and following the service. The Salvation Army served approximately 10,000 people–from bottled water, to snacks, to full meals. The Salvation Army also handed out approximately 3,000 to 4,000 leaflets on grieving to the general public at Clement Park.
Salvation Army officers attended all of the victims’ memorial services. The Army has been working closely with victims’ advocacy services and continues to participate in the planning of how to best help the victims and the community in the aftermath of this tragedy. The Salvation Army has also been asked by the Colorado Victims Assistance (COVA) and the United Way to help set up a safe house for the Columbine High School students. The safe house will be operated for at least the next six months, and The Salvation Army will help provide food.
The Salvation Army was blessed with the outpouring of support from restaurants and companies, as well as volunteers. KRKS, a Christian radio station, ran public service announcements asking for volunteers to assist with this operation. KRKS is also planning a benefit concert with The Salvation Army as the charity through which people can help the Columbine High School families. The Salvation Army has told the media the public can send monetary donations through The Salvation Army earmarked for the Columbine High families. The donations will help with ongoing expenses and needs that the families may have.
Numerous companies donated meals, supplies and services through The Salvation Army, including: Arby’s, Boston Market, Domino’s Pizza, King Soopers Supermarket, McDonald’s, Pepsi, Starbucks, and Share Colorado Catholic Charities.