Salvation Army Newark Branch Strives to Give Back to Residents This Holiday Season
From TAPinto Newark: Reaching out to the community during the holiday season has become a staple initiative for the Salvation Army-Newark branch this time of year just as much as its emblematic red kettles stationed at street corners around town, poised for patrons to dole out a few dollars or some spare change from their recent shopping purchase.
To symbolically mark the spirit of giving back this holiday season, the organization's Newark leaders and local dignitaries came together at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Tuesday to launch a “Red Kettle Kick-Off” event, inviting residents who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to come out and receive gift bags for their families.
“It means a lot to me,” Central Ward resident Joan Sorbino said with a delighted smile on her face upon receiving her gift bags. “I appreciate [the Salvation Army] because the pandemic was rough. They helped me with my bills.”
A grandmother of eight children, Sorbino told TAPinto Newark that because she is on permanent disability and doesn’t work, she needed support while living on a tight fixed income during the pandemic.
Like Sorbino, Newark residents across the city hunkered down inside their homes for months while the city was on lockdown in order to mitigate the spread of the virus. Sorbino said that as she spent an extended period of time indoors, she saw a sharp rise in her electric bill.
Sorbino knew she needed help.
“The lights ran all the time. If the light bill was $200, I would get very scared because I only get $800 a month and you can’t do much after you pay rent and the light bill,” she said.
By turning to the Salvation Army for financial assistance, Sorbino’s concerns over her monthly bills were soon alleviated.
For nearly 150 years, the Salvation Army’s Newark branch has lent a hand to residents in predicaments just like that by offering a number of outreach services and resources. Whether it’s food insecurity, emergency relief for disaster survivors or rehabilitation for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol abuse, the Salvation Army reaches the community in a number of ways.
Although residents can access a number of these resources year round, Salvation Army-Newark Director of Human Services Drew Grisham said that the branch ensures these efforts carry forward during the holiday season.
“Each year we take time after Thanksgiving to kick off our holiday season where you’ll see the bells and the kettles out, and every dollar that is raised goes right back into the community,” Grisham told TAPinto Newark.
The director said that the monies collected through this effort help support the organization's crisis intervention programs. These programs help support residents with rent and utility assistance as well as programs that might lack sufficient funding to reach a specific need.
“Whatever the need is, we’re flexible enough to meet that need, especially in times of crisis and throughout the year,” said Grisham.
That flexibility also gives Newark residents the confidence to know that they can rely on the Salvation Army at any time.
That confidence resonated with another Central Ward resident at the Red Kettle Kick-Off event, Antoinette Parks, who said the organization has helped her for years look after her six grandchildren.
“Some days I don’t have to worry about stuff because they have my back and give me good information and send me to different places to get the help that I need,” Parks told TAPinto Newark. “They help me out mainly during the holidays and during the school year. They help me get school clothes together.”
With the holiday season descending upon the city of Newark, it wasn’t lost on local officials either that many residents rely on outreach services this time of year.
Central Ward Councilwoman LaMonica McIver who attended Tuesday’s event, said that Salvation Army has helped benefit a number of residents through its services.
McIver encouraged the community to support the organization anyway it can this winter.
"We know that these last 20 months have been very challenging for us all... specifically here in Newark," said McIver. "We're still trying to push forward, and we need the Salvation Army and for [residents] to support them."
Donations can be made to the Salvation Army by visiting, https://easternusa.salvationarmy.org/new-jersey/.
Learn more at TAPinto Newark