The Salvation Army of Lake County overcomes hurdles to aid community during pandemic
The Salvation Army of Lake County’s decades of helping those in need around the Region prepared it for the difficult year that was 2020.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier in the year, many Northwest Indiana families found themselves without paychecks. They faced hard choices when it came to daily life. Some had to choose between paying an electric bill or buying food, which led many people to seek help from The Salvation Army — some for the first time ever.
As businesses cut back operations and furloughed workers during the crisis, The Salvation Army of Lake County saw demand for services increase 500% between March and June. Requests for aid pushed the organization to its limits, but leaders vowed to continue providing relief to the community.
“The Salvation Army has stood alongside anyone needing emergency assistance and relief during the toughest of times,” said Capt. Brian Clark, coordinator of The Salvation Army of Lake County. “There are many nonprofits that have closed their doors during the pandemic, (but) The Salvation Army community centers in Lake County and elsewhere have remained open and stand ready to help.”
The Salvation Army found ways to continue delivering services. A hot lunch became a to-go box delivered through a window because of health and safety protocols to slow the spread of the disease. Mobile food trucks delivered 100 lunches daily. Christmas presents were shared through their Angel Tree program. And community members received assistance through social services.
No one is exempt from diseases, disasters and emergencies, Clark said. No generation has avoided crisis, and current and future generations shouldn’t expect to either.
“We must do everything that we can to prepare ourselves for times like these to occur … and they will happen again,” he said. “The Salvation Army will be standing ready to help our neighbors who are in need during any crisis.”
Volunteers and donors are always a key component to the services of The Salvation Army of Lake County, and in the wake of COVID-19, they are even more critical. The Red Kettle campaign during the holiday season normally accounts for about 70% of fundraising for the year, but restrictions from the pandemic reduced that number significantly.
The Salvation Army continues to provide services to those in need, but without the contributions from their neighbors, those services for the new year will be limited, Clark said.
“Whether it’s individuals or businesses who give to support The Salvation Army’s work, they are every bit as responsible for helping their neighbors in need as the organization’s employees and volunteers,” said Kevin Feldman, director of development for The Salvation Army of Lake County. “The good work cannot be accomplished without them.”
Even through the pandemic, the mission of The Salvation Army has remained constant.
“If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic is helping to make us even stronger and capable of meeting human needs,” Clark said. “Besides our prayers that the pandemic will cease in 2021, we also hope that many new individual and corporate partners will join with us to help restore the individuals and families hurt most by COVID-19, (because) their needs will continue for some time after the pandemic has ended.”