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Reno Corps reaches out

The Salvation Army and Feed the Children partner to help 800 Reno families.

This fall, The Salvation Army in Reno, Nev.—Corps Officers Majors Michael and Janene Zielinski—partnered with Feed the Children in an outreach to 800 families in need. Volunteers distributed 2,400 boxes of food, hygiene items and Avon products. Reno was among over 50 cities on Feed the Children’s Americans Feeding Americans 2010 tour.

Nevada has extremely high unemployment—13 to 14 percent—and home foreclosure rates, so there was no question of need. In a process lasting three weeks, about 10 corps volunteers—using last year’s Christmas list and this year’s Back to School list—called the 800 selected families, confirming their addresses prior to sending them a voucher with a distribution time.

“Some people cried when we told them they qualified for help,” said Captain Michael Johnson, assistant corps officer. Asked by a reporter about someone crying over a food box, Johnson said, “25 pounds is a big deal when you don’t have enough food in the house for the kids.”

To provide a ministry opportunity, three Home League ladies and a corps cadet made bookmarks and refrigerator magnets that featured a blessing and the corps worship times. They also searched through cartons of donated books for Bibles and other Christian books to give away at the event. As a result of this outreach, three families came to the following Sunday’s worship service.

On the distribution day, Feed the Children arrived with two semi-trucks of food and other necessities. Working with community volunteers, about 20 Home League women, working in shifts, welcomed each recipient, gave them a book or Bible and a bookmark and magnet, and invited them to church. Others from Home League and Community Care ministries and some Adult Rehabilitation Program graduates distributed refreshments and helped carry boxes. Kitchen workers kept sandwich platters prepared for the volunteers. Everyone worked together to make this a successful event.

One woman said, “My husband and I are living in a hotel, trying to support my 12-year daughter and 17-month old granddaughter. This is a very nice surprise!”

The volunteers included representatives from Bank of America, Harrah’s Reno, NV Energy, Reno Police S.A.V.E., Reno Advisory Board, Reno Corps Home League, RSVP, WCSO Citizen Corps Volunteers and Wells Fargo.

From Carole Miller and Major Janene Zieli

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