Susanville and Lassen County enjoy a justly earned reputation for giving to the less fortunate among us — not just during the holiday season — but throughout the year.
Personally, I can’t walk by a Salvation Army bell ringer and a Red Kettle without donating a dollar or two. I just can’t.
My grandmother, May, and her sister, Sarah, both served as evangelists and officers in the Salvation Army for many years.
May earned the nickname, “The Angel of Tijuana,” because of her nearly constant work to redeem the prostitutes in that steamy city just south of the border and her home in San Diego’s North Park District.
She also gained fame for barnstorming the downtown bars and selling “War Cry” magazines to the patrons.
Now there’s a hard sell.
During The Depression she even took on the San Diego Police Department after officers arrested some of those coming to and from a Salvation Army soup kitchen for vagrancy.
Despite my familial ties to the Salvation Army, I can’t walk past the bell ringers for another reason — the way the money I donate benefits our community.
I’ve known troubled families over the years that have turned to the Salvation Army for help.
Believe it or not, the Salvation Army reports it provided services to nearly 30 million Americans in 2009 — responding to a truly astounding need across our nation.
The families I’ve known needed assistance to handle the basic necessities of life — food and financial assistance to pay past-due utility bills.
The Salvation Army helped these families with a minimum of questions and hassle and without sermonizing of any kind. The families had a need, and the Salvation Army filled it.
Juanita Williams, of the Susanville Salvation Army, said the organization provided about $30,000 in local services last year.
That amount does not include the cost of operating the center in the Grocery Outlet shopping center.
Williams said all the money collected by bell ringers in Susanville stays right here in Lassen County to provide emergency services of food, utilities, transportation and lodging.
The Red Kettles also generate funding for back-to-school programs, the Salvation Army Camp and to purchase gifts for children on the two Angel Trees (Walmart and The Health Nut) if necessary.
Williams said she’s always looking for bell ringers this time of year where volunteers work eight hours a day in two-hour shifts at 16 separate locations.
For more information on the Salvation Army or to volunteer as a bell ringer, call 257-0314 or 251-7782.
Safeway is facilitating a food drive for the Salvation Army now through Dec. 24.
Customers can purchase a bag of groceries for $10 to be used to fill Christmas food boxes.
I also can’t forget to mention the Lassen Modoc FoodBank — a local non-profit agency that distributes nearly 20,000 pounds of commodities every month to nearly 4,000 needy people in Lassen and Modoc counties.
During Christmas, the food bank distributes about 50 baskets to seniors in need.
I’m not asking you to adopt my charities as your own.
But if you have a little bit extra to share, please be generous. It will surely lift someone’s spirit and make our little corner of the world a happier place.
Giving truly is a greater blessing than receiving.
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