The Salvation Army helps villagers keep their families warm.
By Karen Gleason –
A gift of warm clothes means a lot to families living in poverty in rural Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries and part of The Salvation Army’s Eastern Europe Territory.
Moldova Divisional Commander Major Ronda Gilger, a USA Western Territory officer, constantly looks for ways to help the Moldovan people. One of those ways is providing hand-knit clothes to families.
“What a journey is made from a knitter’s heart and needles to the perfect sweater being wrapped around a Moldovan child’s shoulders,” Gilger said, describing the impact of The Salvation Army’s “Knits for Moldova” project.
At 13,068 square miles, Moldova is a relatively small country between Romania and Ukraine. Winters are cold, with average temperatures around 26 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Poverty and isolation become a breeding ground for hopelessness,” Gilger said, speaking of outlying rural communities.
According to Gilger, The Salvation Army Mobile Clinic team of doctors visits Moldova’s poorest villages, meeting needs with practical help. Doctors, specialists, optometrists, pharmacists and teachers partner with local authorities to gather entire villages together. People come by bicycle, by foot, and by horse-cart.
“They will be ministered to mind, body and soul,” said Gilger. “They will be wrapped in love and grace and knits.”
During the visit, mothers can pick a handknit item for their children.
“Mothers smile as they choose the perfect hat, coat, sweater, boots or toy for their child,” Gilger said. “These knits will keep little ones warm…Often these families choose between food and heat in the winter.”
The project exists thanks to Stephen Webster, from The Salvation Army Plymouth Corps in the U.K., who organizes volunteers in partnership with Spring Harvest, an interdenominational Christian conference and gathering based in the U.K.
“Because of strict customs regulations on imports, the knits—often 30-plus boxes—come to us in what can only be described as covert grace,” Gilger said. “Adventures abound, which make the actual ‘giving’ all the more a miracle.”