Soup, soap and salvation

Portland seniors help with kits for the homeless.

“Homeless kits” are created by residents at River Valley Landing Senior Community in Portland, Ore. [Photo by Cathy Jacobsen]

The residents at River Valley Landing Senior Living Community are helping create kits for the homeless, supporting The Salvation Army and the less fortunate in the greater Portland (Oregon) area.

Tom Helus, a Salvation Army soldier and maintenance supervisor at Cascade divisional headquarters, launched a project, “Soup, Soap and Salvation,” to do something for the many homeless individuals in Portland. He started by handing out copies of The War Cry but soon realized they needed more.

Following the example of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, Tom began providing soup and soap as well.

“Take away all the distractions, and you can feed their soul,” Tom said. “By distributing soup, you take away their hunger. By giving them soap, you take away their concerns about being unclean. With those distractions gone, they can focus on God. Thus, it is called Soup, Soap and Salvation.”

Tom soon realized that he needed help with the soup portion of his venture. He asked his family members for assistance. His sister, Cathy Jacobsen, life engagement coordinator at River Valley Landing, relayed the request to the residents, who without hesitation began gathering soup for Tom. Then they had an idea: What if we gather supplies for these people, like toothbrushes, toothpaste, rain ponchos and personal care items? That’s when the project took flight.

Each month the residents purchase items for their kits at the Dollar Store. Over the past six months, they have gathered many necessities and created bags of treasures for those in need. Working together and knowing that they are helping others has been “soul food” for everyone involved!

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