Homeless in Hawaii: Salvation Army reunites kids with their dad this Christmas season

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Story and photos by Craig Dirkes

If you’ve ever wondered how your donations to The Salvation Army are used, this story provides the answer.

Thanks to Salvation Army supporters, Jake Snyder is reunited with his four children—Zebulon (“Z”), 16; Emily, 15; Jake, Jr., 14; and Joey, 11—who were homeless in Hawaii after being abandoned by their mother. They spent months living in a tent city with other homeless children.

“Living in that camp, everyone was cool with everybody,” said Z, adding that he and Emily assumed the role of Jake and Joey’s mom and dad. “But it hit a downfall toward the end. Hawaii and meth go hand in hand; we didn’t want to be around any of that.”

Local police eventually raided the camp and the kids were sent to a Salvation Army youth shelter, where caseworkers began sorting out their lives. The caseworkers connected with Jake Sr., who’d spent months trying to get the kids back.

It all came together Dec. 9, when the kids landed in Minneapolis, Minn., and fell straight into their father’s arms. Snyder then drove everyone to The Salvation Army headquarters in Roseville, where the kids picked out winter clothing, school supplies and Christmas gifts. In addition, The Salvation Army gave the father food vouchers, gas vouchers and a three-night hotel stay in Detroit Lakes, where he has since secured a new job and housing.

“I can’t thank The Salvation Army enough for getting those kids back to me,” Snyder said. “I’m trying to give these kids some stability, give them a place to finish school, give them a life.”

The Snyders’ story exemplifies the different ways you can help others through The Salvation Army. Donated frequent flyer miles, for example, got the kids to Minnesota. Toy donations provided the kids with Christmas gifts. School supply donations prepared them for learning. Clothing donations are keeping them warm. Food donations are keeping them fed. Monetary donations helped the family with transportation assistance and a place to sleep.

Thank you, supporters, for giving to The Salvation Army this Christmas season and all year long.


Read more about the family in this Star Tribune article

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