Each holiday season, the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program becomes a community affair. Future Farmers of America students Courtney Jones, left, Levi Prater, Nathan Del Carlo, Skyler Stockmeyer and Carson Fleming lend a hand in helping the Salvation Army Angel Tree program back in 2016. Photo submitted

Nonprofit helped thousands of families in Northern California and Northern Nevada stay fed and housed

The Salvation Army’s Del Oro Division, which serves Northern California and Northern Nevada, has been responding to the increased need caused by COVID-19 for exactly one year this past week. Last March, the world effectively shut down, but the nonprofit ramped up its efforts knowing the need would soon be greater than ever. In the past year, The Salvation Army has provided more than a million meals and food boxes within the Del Oro Division. The nonprofit has also provided shelter, rent and utility assistance, childcare, emotional and spiritual care, and personal protective equipment to thousands of families and individuals in need.

According to Carla McDonald, coordinator at the local Salvation Army office in Susanville, the local statistics for Lassen County include 99 children from 43 households that received Angel Tree gifts; 277 individuals from 99 households received Christmas Food Boxes; and 3,202 individuals from 1,818 households received general assistance through the holiday season.

“The Salvation Army has historically adapted in times of difficulty to meet the needs of all people who seek assistance, and COVID-19 is no exception,” said Major Ivan Wild, Salvation Army divisional commander. “Since the first stay-at-home orders back in March 2020, the Salvation Army has made quick and innovative changes to continue its service. We transitioned to drive-through food distributions when the need in some communities, such as Sacramento rose 1,100 percent, provided childcare for first responders and essential workers, provided hope and spiritual care to those who felt isolated and alone, and so much more.”

The Salvation Army quickly adapted, taking many of its services virtual in order to continue filling the growing need in the community. The nonprofit offered virtual Summer Camp to children all over the Del Oro Division. In cities like Roseville and Santa Rosa, The Salvation Army delivered activity kits to help keep children entertained during stay-at-home orders. The nonprofit also created Virtual Red Kettles to allow and encourage donors to give online during the holiday season to make up for fewer in-person kettles at stores and on street corners due to the pandemic.

Innovations like these were crucial to both allowing the Salvation Army to continue to serve, but also to continue raising money to support its mission. Over the past 12 months, the Salvation Army has seen an incredible outpouring of support from the community and its partners, especially during Christmas season. In a year where the Salvation Army anticipated a drop in holiday donations, the Salvation Army’s Del Oro Division saw a 33 percent increase in the number of donations and a 36 percent increase in the total funds raised compared to last year.

“I could not be more proud of our officers, staff and volunteers who give of themselves every day to ensure the needs of the community are met,” said Wild. “The Del Oro Division also has wonderful donors who sacrificially give so that our programs can continue to serve the needed. Together we are making difference.”

Money raised will help The Salvation Army continue to provide services to thousands of individuals and families in need. The nonprofit is part of the communities in which it serves. Whether it’s a pandemic, a wildfire, or another kind of disaster, The Salvation Army is on the ground serving those in need before, during and long after the emergency clears.

The Salvation Army runs on donations, volunteer power and faith. Donations can be made at gosalarmy.org. Volunteer opportunities can be found at Volunteer.SalvationArmy.org. Funds raised locally stay in the communities in which they are given.