ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As the nation marks the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Salvation Army continues to address the longstanding issues of homelessness, poverty, and hunger which have intensified and become more complex due to COVID-19. As a record number of families face the ongoing threats of “pandemic poverty,” The Salvation Army remains committed, despite operational and fundraising challenges for charities. With a global network of local service units, they are uniquely positioned to respond to the ongoing crisis and offer assistance from 7,600 centers of operation across the country.
People living in poverty felt the effects of COVID-19 more quickly and acutely because they experienced a pandemic on top of already-existing epidemics of need. COVID-19 forced a record number of Americans to seek assistance from The Salvation Army, including many people who had previously supported the organization as donors. The most requested service was food assistance, and due to its grassroots structure, The Salvation Army was able to modify operations to meet urgent need in creative and localized ways. In 2020, more than 225 million meals were served through food distribution programs that included safe drive-through and home drop-off options, compared to 146 million meals in 2019.
“The Salvation Army has always dedicated itself to responding to crisis in nimble, inventive ways, but no one could have predicted the tsunami of need caused by COVID-19,” said Commissioner Kenneth G. Hodder, the National Commander of The Salvation Army in the United States. “We are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of public support that enables us to maintain our services, and we will remain on the front lines for the duration of this crisis to provide comfort and relief to Americans living in poverty.”
While The Salvation Army’s mission never changes, evolving approaches to meeting need did reflect the profound impact the pandemic had on Americans everywhere:
- Many Family and Thrift retail stores were forced to close due to local health precautions, and some were converted to shelters to house vulnerable homeless individuals and families.
- Canteens typically used to respond to natural disasters delivered food and hydration to first responders and frontline healthcare workers. Additionally, the Army hosted PPE drives and provided free childcare so first responders could better focus on the fight against the pandemic.
- The Salvation Army launched a national phone hotline (the Hope Hotline) to provide people with emotional and spiritual care. This virtual service, in addition to onsite ministries, meant that almost 1 million people impacted by the pandemic received compassionate support.
COVID-19 also created unique challenges for charities responding to the crisis. The Salvation Army provided more than 1 million nights of shelter specifically related to COVID-19, but supply was lower than demand due to social distancing and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. Many of these constraints remain and will continue to impact the ability to serve as long as the pandemic persists.
COVID-19 specific response, along with continued services that combat job loss, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, human trafficking, natural disasters, and more, were able to continue daily thanks to the help of generous donors, corporations, and foundation partners.
Additionally, The Salvation Army took the historic step of starting its 2020 holiday fundraising campaign early to ensure struggling Americans had a bright Christmas. More than $557 million was raised, which will help power 2021 services, but demand is expected to far outpace resources to combat the largest jump in poverty since the government began tracking it 60 years ago.i As people face weekly threats of eviction and financial loss, the majority of clients are characterized to be families who live paycheck-to-paycheck. In response, Salvation Army sheltering resources will remain focused on vulnerable homeless families, and financial resources will focus on keeping people in their homes through rent and utility assistance.
The Salvation Army will continue to meet the rising tide of pandemic poverty during the current crisis and beyond, but to do so, they are asking for the support of the public. Just $25 a month could be the difference between a family paying their light bill or being left in the dark, or receiving a hot meal or going hungry. To help, visit salvationarmyusa.org.
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army annually helps more than 30 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,600 centers of operation around the country. In the first-ever listing of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Salvation Army ranked as the country’s largest privately funded, direct-service nonprofit. For more information, visit SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.
i B. Meyer, University of Chicago; J. Sullivan, University of Notre Dame; J. Hann, Zhejiang University
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SOURCE The Salvation Army