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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.
We have a presence in almost every zip code throughout the nation. The Salvation Army has been supporting those in need for 150 years. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled and elderly, temporary housing, spiritual programs, holiday assistance, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children.
Divisional Commanders, Western Pennsylvania Division
Soon after beginning his ministerial career in England in 1852, William Booth abandoned the concept of the traditional church pulpit in favor of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ directly to the people. Walking the streets of London, he preached to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.
When fellow clergymen disagreed with Booth’s unconventional approach, he and his wife Catherine withdrew from the church to train evangelists throughout England. The couple returned to the East End of London in 1865, where many followers joined their fight for the souls of lost men and women. Within 10 years, their organization, operating under the name “The Christian Mission," had over 1,000 volunteers and evangelists.
Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among their first converts to Christianity. And soon, those converts were also preaching and singing in the streets as living testimonies to the power of God.
When Booth read a printer's proof of the 1878 “Christian Mission” annual report, he noticed the statement "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." Crossing out the words "volunteer army," he penned in "Salvation Army." From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.
From that point onward, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles that, in spite of violence and persecution, converted 250,000 Christians between 1881 and 1885. Their message spread rapidly, gaining a foothold in America and soon after Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and Germany.
Today, The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world and serves in over 100 countries, offering the message of God’s healing and hope to all those in need.
In 1891, Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was distraught because so many poor individuals in San Francisco were going hungry. During the holiday season, he resolved to provide a free Christmas dinner for the destitute and poverty-stricken. He only had one major hurdle to overcome -- funding the project.
Where would the money come from, he wondered. He lay awake nights, worrying, thinking, praying about how he could find the funds to fulfill his commitment of feeding 1,000 of the city's poorest individuals on Christmas Day. As he pondered the issue, his thoughts drifted back to his sailor days in Liverpool, England. He remembered how at Stage Landing, where the boats came in, there was a large, iron kettle called "Simpson's Pot" into which passers-by tossed a coin or two to help the poor.
The next day Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing at the foot of Market Street. Beside the pot, he placed a sign that read, "Keep the Pot Boiling." He soon had the money to see that the needy people were properly fed at Christmas.
Six years later, the kettle idea spread from the west coast to the Boston area. That year, the combined effort nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. In 1901, kettle contributions in New York City provided funds for the first mammoth sit-down dinner in Madison Square Garden, a custom that continued for many years. Today in the U.S., The Salvation Army assists more than four-and-a-half million people during the Thanksgiving and Christmas time periods.
Captain McFee's kettle idea launched a tradition that has spread not only throughout the United States, but all across the world. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile and many European countries. Everywhere, public contributions to Salvation Army kettles enable the organization to continue its year-round efforts at helping those who would otherwise be forgotten.
National Doughnut Day was first celebrated in Chicago in 1938 to help the needy during the Great Depression and commemorate the work of the “doughnut lassies” who served soldiers during World War I. Today, the first Friday in June each year marks an important date in American food history and raises awareness for the critical services that The Salvation Army provides to those in need each day.
In order to raise needed funds during the Great Depression The Salvation Army began honoring 250 World War I volunteers and lassies, on the first “National Doughnut Day” in 1938. Among those honored were Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance who came up with the idea of frying doughnuts in soldiers’ helmets near the front lines as a quick treat. The doughnuts became an instant hit that was brought back to America by returning “doughboys.”
National Salvation Army Week, typically observed in the second week of May, was first declared by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. In the proclamation, Eisenhower noted: "Among Americans, The Salvation Army has long been a symbol of wholehearted dedication to the cause of human brotherhood. Their work has been a constant reminder to us all that each of us is neighbor and kin to all Americans, giving freely of themselves, the men and women of The Salvation Army have won the respect of us all."
In 2001, President George W. Bush issued a new proclamation recognizing the week, stating: “During this week, I encourage Americans to express their appreciation for the Salvation Army's good works and to follow their example of serving a cause greater than themselves.”
Today, Salvation Army service units, along with volunteers, businesses and government, celebrate National Salvation Army Week through a variety of special events and activities across the country.
The Salvation Army is not a physical army but rather a global army of people moved to humanitarian action through faith.
No, we are a group of committed Christians who are concerned to see that the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - reaches the needs of the whole person. The Army's social work sprang out of such concern.
The Salvation Army pledges to help people of all religions, as well as those with no religious base. Its our official policy. "All social welfare services to individuals or families are given without discrimination, according to the capacity of the organization to serve in meeting the needs of those involved."
No. We respect those who come to us in need, whatever their beliefs may be. We try to establish an environment in which spiritual choice is possible.
We strive to meet the needs of vulnerable groups and those overlooked or ignored in our communities. We make no distinction based on ethnicity or sexual orientation.
There are several answers to this question. First, The Salvation Army has demonstrated its ability to effectively identify and efficiently meet urgent human needs in communities throughout the world for over 120 years. When you give to us, you know that your money is going to those who need it most. Second, the people we serve have multiple needs. The wide range of our programs means that we can deal with the whole person under the umbrella of a single agency. Third, our staff combines the expertise of professional training with the experience of working on a wide variety of social problems and emergency relief situations.
There are many ways to give to The Salvation Army and to those in need in your community. Donated items such as gift baskets for Christmas or toys and coats for kids make a big difference. You can also assist by repairing Salvation Army camps in your local area or donating camp equipment. Last but not least, you can simply give time by volunteering to help with our fundraising campaigns and other activities. Visit our Donate and Volunteer pages for more info.
The Salvation Army translates it's faith into action by offering programs and services to assist those in need in a variety of ways. Your gift can enable us to serve nutritious meals to older adults, shelter homeless families, help people overcome addictions, provide after-school tutoring and recreation, and send inner-city children to summer camp. If your concern is global, you can contribute to Salvation Army World Services, which provides such programs as HIV/AIDS clinics in Africa, homeless feeding services in Russia, enterprise development in the Philippines, and homes for orphaned and abandoned children in Mexico.
The Salvation Army makes every effort to ensure that the maximum possible amount from donations reaches those in need. Approximately 90 cents of every dollar we collect goes in direct assistance to the homeless, the mentally ill, the physically challenged, victims of drug and alcohol abuse, and others under our care.
No. The Salvation Army actually began in London, England, before expanding to The United States. The Salvation Army currently has offices and services in 116 countries and territories and shares the gospel and love of the Lord in over 175 languages. This web site is dedicated to the Eastern Territory of The Salvation Army within the United States, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
We encourage you to contact your nearest Salvation Army office or headquarters if you are interested in joining or if you seek more information. Salvation Army locations in your area can be found in the Locations section of this web site. Those interested in contributing can also see our donations page or volunteer through the online Volunteering section. Thank you for helping us to help others.
There are currently well over 1 million soldiers of God within The Salvation Army worldwide. This includes volunteers, officers, and employees; and this number is growing. Please see our international statistics for more detailed information. Literally thousands of people participate in The Salvation Army's good deeds in the Eastern Territory alone.