A Donor Gives Back to Pay it Forward
When Charles King was hungry, The Salvation Army fed him.
In a life that has come full circle, Mr. King is grateful for the blessings that have carried him from a ham sandwich that filled his hungry belly years ago, to the abundance of today as he is now a faithful donor of major gifts to The Salvation Army Western PA Division.
Mr. King spent over a year and a half homeless as a young man years ago. It was a hard life and eventually, he joined the Navy to regain some structure and to find a path forward.
After bootcamp, he had two weeks off. With no place to call home, he got on a bus to Waynesburg in the hopes of seeing friends and what family he had left.
“I hadn’t eaten for two days and didn’t have any money,” Mr. King said. “The Salvation Army was at the Pittsburgh bus station – I went in there and was shocked by how nice the people were. They asked if I wanted something to eat. They gave me a ham and cheese sandwich. Having not eaten for two days, you’d be surprised how good that tasted.”
He asked for a glass of milk, and The Salvation Army provided.
“I am happy they were there. I was hungry and tired,” Mr. King said. “I was just amazed that at the time, it was 2 a.m. and the woman there was so dedicated to helping me.”
Growing up on a farm, Mr. King understood the value of hard work as a young man. But as all people walk their own journeys and endure their own struggles, he broke his back in a violent car accident the spring of his senior year in high school. He spent months in the hospital, healing and relearning how to walk again.
“I had a hard time – I tried to go to college but didn’t make it there, and then I just took off,” Mr. King said.
Experiencing homelessness and hunger changed his life, and he never forgot the hand up he received from The Salvation Army at that bus station years ago.
“I had a hard life - but I have an excellent life now,” Mr. King said. “It really is very nice to be on this side of things. I started giving my money every month. The Salvation Army never charged me for anything when I was in need, so I always turned to them.”
As a man who is now blessed to give to others in need, he encourages other potential donors to value the way in which The Salvation Army operates and stays true to its mission.
“The Salvation Army helps people very efficiently. If you are giving money, you’d like it to be used as best as it can,” he said.