I spoke with Betsy Clark, former Volunteer Coordinator for The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has programs and services that happen year-round and they use volunteers throughout the year, but many of their opportunities happen during the holidays. Yes, it’s never too early to think about holiday volunteering. Read more about how you can help…
Amanda: Can you tell me what your organization does in 2-3 sentences?
Betsy: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
Amanda: What kinds of different things do volunteers do at your organization?
Betsy: There are two main ways to get involved at the Salvation Army: one-time events and ongoing opportunities. Volunteers help us by working the front desk, answering phones, doing client intake, working the food pantry and interviewing clients to help them access services.
Seasonal or one-time events tend to fall around the holiday season. We use volunteers to help us with our coat drive and distribution, thanksgiving baskets, the Christmas Toy Shop, the well-known Red Kettle bell ringing (which helps to raise 30% of the organizations operating revenue)….if Kettles do well, we’re able to help more people! We have a variety of different choirs, instrumentalists, groups and individuals that sing or perform while ringing their bells. We also have plenty of individuals that just like to ring alone or with a friend.
A recent one-time event that we did involved packing meals for Haiti relief. Over a 2 day span, we packed xxx number of meals and had more than 4,000 hours of volunteer service toward the effort. We may do another similar meal-packing event like that in the spring.
We usually have an annual Back-to-School event. This year with the help of volunteer shopping assistants, we were able to take 14 local kids on a Target shopping spree for school supplies and clothes. One girl found a $4 dress on clearance and was so excited for the whole trip about her find.
This year, with the help of our wonderful volunteers, we’ve been able to increase our services to the public and serve more people, without increasing the money spent.
Amanda: Is there anything special a volunteer should know before they get started with your organization?
Betsy: Potential volunteers can find all of our opportunities online. They will be asked to fill out and application and do a background check for many opportunities. We can often make special arrangements for groups, if necessary. We are always open to new volunteers that want to help out!
Amanda: What’s the best thing a volunteer ever did for your organization? Or one volunteer memory that really stands out in your mind?
Betsy: I just love all of our bell ringers. Last year, we had a volunteer dress as a Christmas tree. I have another bell ringing volunteer that calls himself Mr. Jingles and sings. We have all different types of music groups and singers. All you ask them to do is a ring a bell, but they do so much more.