Salvation Army Donor Shares How He First Got Involved With The Salvation Army

May 14, 2024

On June 9, 1953, a tornado ripped through Worcester, Mass., killing 100 and injuring thousands. Out of that whirlwind came one man’s lifelong commitment to The Salvation Army.

John Mercier, 12 years old at the time, had to walk through the path of destruction to get to his bus stop.

“Canteens had popped up everywhere,” he says, belonging to The Salvation Army and several other agencies. All were serving refreshments, but “the tricky part,” Mercier says, is that only The Salvation Army was serving them for free.

He’s been telling that story ever since. After he moved from New York City to Norwich, Conn., in 1979, he made regular donations to several nonprofits, but The Salvation Army has always been at the top of his list. About 15–20 years ago, he remembers a young woman knocking at his door looking for help for a Salvation Army summer camp. Before he donated, he made sure to tell her his “origin” story with The Salvation Army.

“I was just a school kid, but I’ll never forget getting a doughnut and coffee for free,” he says.

A small act of kindness to a child continues to resonate over 70 years later.

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