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May 31, 2013

READERS' FORUM: May 31, 2013

History of service is labor of love

Congratulations to the Terre Haute Salvation Army on its 125th anniversary of service to our community.

As a bell-ringer during the Red Kettle Campaign, I heard countless testimonials of people helped by the Salvation Army. I listened to their stories. It helped me realize and understand what the Salvation Army meant to them and how it has affected so many people over so many generations.

One woman told of her grandfather, a “doughboy” from World War I, and how he remembered his return to the States. His first sighting, as he set foot on the shores of America, was the Salvation Army with coffee, donuts and the warmest of welcomes.

I listened as another person recalled that his father, a Gl in World War II, had been unable to afford the transportation expense to attend his grandmother’s funeral. (He was stationed in the States at the time.) There was the Salvation Army with a helping hand.

And there was the elderly woman who has never forgotten the Salvation Army. The death of her father had left the family almost destitute. In their time of need it was the Salvation Army that came to the aid of her family with clothes and toys at Christmas. She was a child at the time. She still remembers.

Need more modern accounts? The Salvation Army was there to help when the 2008 flood and levee damage overwhelmed Terre Haute. Many of the people who got assistance have recovered from the devastation and are now gladly giving to others the help the Salvation Army once gave to them.

Sometimes I would say after a donation. “Thank you, the Salvation Army will sure put that to good use.” Their response was simple, but meaningful, “I know.”

I’m not embarrassed to write. The accounts of the help of the Salvation Army for our neighbors often caused a lump in my throat.

There will be people who question the need for charitable giving or have heard of charitable scams. There will be some who are aware of CEOs of nonprofits making extraordinary salaries. Some will know of organizations sending donations to Timbuktu, when less-fortunate people in their community are in greater need. The citizens of Terre Haute can be assured that Salvation Army administrative costs are absolutely minimal. The money it donates remains in the community. And its assistance provides basic needs to anyone in need.

Thank you, Salvation Army, for your labor of love.

— William R. Youman

Terre Haute

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