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Do The Most Good

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Do the most good

Five simple ways to support The Salvation Army

Most people know you can help The Salvation Army by ringing bells for them at Christmastime, serving in their soup kitchens, giving items to their Family Stores or donating money or food, but there are plenty of other ways to help The Salvation Army too, including some you might not have thought of. In honor of Give Local America! Day today, here are five super easy and less commonly thought of ways to support your local Salvation Army.

1. Donate lesser-known needs

When people think of donating items to The Salvation Army, they generally think of things like food, clothing and money, but while those are important, they’re far from the only donations The Salvation Army needs.
Not all the donations The Salvation Army needs are obvious. For instance, women’s hygiene products like the tampons and sanitary pads the Chattanooga Women’s Auxiliary collects at its annual Mardi Bra event are critical but often overlooked items.

Case in point: plastic grocery bags. You know you’ve got some lying around the house, so instead of trashing them, give them to your local Salvation Army, which can use them to pack items for its food assistance programs as well as in its Family Stores. Remember, though, as the Richmond, Kentucky Salvation Army reminds people, the bags should be “clean, dry [and] hole-free.”If you need other ideas, you can call and inquire as to what is needed or check online. For instance, The Salvation Army in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has a Needs section on its website that lists things people can donate. Items include coffee, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, garbage bags and all-purpose cleaners.

Also, many Salvation Army locations have Facebook pages, and some will post the needs they have there. For instance, the Bowling Green, Kentucky Salvation Army recently shared that it’s in need of pillows for its homeless shelter, and it has also sought steel-toed work boots for shelter clients who require them for work, winter coats it gives away to anyone in need, a meat slicer for its kitchen and fitted sheets, pillow cases and towels for the shelter, among other things.

Feminine products are also frequently needed. This includes hygiene items like tampons, sanitary pads and women’s deodorant as well as bras and underwear. The Chattanooga Salvation Army hosts an annual event calledMardi Bra, where it collects these items to give to women in its shelter and to stockpile for distribution to women throughout the year, but even without an official event, you can still donate these critical items.

2. Hold a donation drive

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Donation drives are an easy way to collect items The Salvation Army needs. Last year, students at Madison Central High School in Richmond, Ky., held a month-long winter clothing drive for their Salvation Army.

This goes hand in hand with #1, and it’s an easy way to ease yourself into volunteering with The Salvation Army if you’ve never done it before. Once you’ve found out what items your local Salvation Army needs, simply set up a drive at your school, office, church or other community location to collect these items.If you’re not the person in charge, make sure to check with them first for approval, then simply set out collection boxes at various locations in the building, set a deadline and/or goal amount and spread the word. You can create flyers to pass out and post that have information such as what you’re collecting, who you’re collecting it for, where people can donate and when they need to donate by.

Once you’ve raised your desired amount, simply take it all to The Salvation Army. In some places, like Louisville, Kentucky, if you call The Salvation Army first, they will bring out the boxes for you to collect the items and then pick up the donations when you’re done.

3. Credit The Salvation Army at checkout

If you have a Kroger Plus Card, you may be able to help your local Salvation Army with almost no effort on your part. First, check to see if it participates in the Kroger Community Rewards Program; if so, you’ll need the five-digit participant number.

Then, on Kroger’s website, sign in or create your account. Under the Community Rewards section of your account settings, enter the participant number, which designates that particular Salvation Army location as your recipient. After that, each time you use your Plus card when you shop, it earns money back for The Salvation Army.

You can also help The Salvation Army when you shop on Amazon by going through smile.amazon.com. It’s the same as shopping on Amazon, except a portion of your purchase price goes to the charity you select.

With The Salvation Army, if you live in Kentucky or Tennessee, you’d select “The Salvation Army USA – Southern Territorial Headquarters” as your charity, and then, whenever you buy something, a portion of the sale goes to the local Salvation Army in your zip code.

4. Be a signal booster

If you are active on social media, find the Salvation Army location or locations near you that are also active. Follow their pages to keep up with what is going on. Many have Facebook and Twitter, while some also have Pinterest, YouTube and/or Instagram.

When they have messages about needing supplies or volunteers, that their shelters or soup kitchens are open longer or closed because of inclement weather, when their Angel Tree sign-ups are, that they need more bell ringers at Christmas or about any upcoming fundraisers they’re having, share these with your friends and followers and encourage them to do the same. Even if you can’t help, maybe someone else can, and the wider the message is spread, the better the chance The Salvation Army has to do the most good in your community.

5. Share your airline miles

If you have airline miles from United or Delta that you have no plans for or simply more than you can use, consider donating them to The Salvation Army. They’ll be used to help The Salvation Army quickly mobilize personnel in times of disaster, provide travel for those in need of out-of-area emergency medical care and to provide staff travel, which reduces administrative costs and, in turn, allows more money to go directly to Salvation Army programs.

The programs are called United Airlines Charity Miles Program and Delta SkyWish. You must donate a minimum of 1,000 miles at a time and can do so online or by phone. You can learn the full guidelines on The Salvation Army USA’s website.

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