When there’s a disaster, the Salvation Army dives in ready to meet the need.
Culpeper Lt. Jared Martin relishes that opportunity, and on Tuesday joined the Virginia Disaster Response Team on a two-week deployment to help in Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida.
Martin left Tuesday morning for Macon, Ga., a location which could still change. He, along with Culpeper area volunteers Beth Bruce and Jesse McHanson, will help man Salvation Army
“We are dedicated to doing the most good, so what we’re going to do is to position ourselves in the best place so the whole area covered and then make adjustments,” Martin said Monday, as he prepared to leave for the trip.
The Salvation Army had 47 units in Florida before the store and disaster response teams from Virginia, Alabama, North and South Carolina and other states were on the way to help. The Virginia team consists of eight canteens, which usually have a crew of three or four. Virginia was also sending its Emergency Disaster Services command team.
Martin praised the volunteers who have signed up to go, pointing out that officers in the army have no choice but to follow the mission.
“I’ve given my life to the Salvation Army, whenever I receive orders I salute and go as quickly as possible,” Martin said. “That is an effective method for officers. There’s a need and that’s the only crisis that has to happen to meet that need.”
This is Martin’s fifth deployment, but the first dealing with a hurricane. He has helped in floods and tornadoes before, and says the primary mission of the Salvation Army is to feed first responders, families and providing free meals for anyone needing them.
“When there’s a place without power, we’ll be able to be there to help them,” Martin said. “So they will be able to focus on what they need to do with their homes or with the rescue services.”
While the canteens are mobile, Martin said sometimes the Salvation Army sets up fixed feeding sites to make it easier to serve those in need. From there they can also provide food boxes and comfort and hygiene kits.
While they do distribute boxes, the Salvation Army does not solicit donations of goods. Instead, they request monetary donations as a way to make sure the funds are able to be used properly.
“Our promise to our donors to always do the most good,” Martin said. “The problem is that with hard goods is to purchase and haul all of this stuff down there, depletes the value of the gift. The best way for people in Virginia to help people in Texas or Florida is to give a financial gift.”
Martin said those involved in disasters are very grateful and that’s part of the heartwarming aspect as they tour the devastation storms have left behind.
“People in disaster crisis are very responsive,” Martin said. “One of the stories I just read happened in Texas and a man said that I wouldn’t have anything if the Salvation Army wasn’t here.”
While providing sustenance, the Salvation Army also strives to provide moral and spiritual support to those in need.
“One of the things Salvation Army specializes in is emotional and spiritual support,” Martin said. “We’re a Christian organization and we’re open about that. We’re able to do some counseling and offer prayer for them, it touches those people in a way that you couldn’t get if you were avoiding those things.”
Martin praised the effort of those volunteering and pointed out they too will be gone for a two-week deployment.
“It’s incredible the amount of bravery and self sacrifice the volunteers show,” Martin said. “You never know exactly what you’ll have until you get there.
“It’s very long hours, it’s very hard work but it’s very rewarding because you know you’re helping people in their time of need.
Donations can be made at helpsalvationarmy.org, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or by mailing checks to: The Salvation Army P.O. BOX 1959 Atlanta, GA 30301.
Please make checks payable to The Salvation Army and designate ‘Hurricane 2017’ on all checks.
To receive a donation link via text: Text STORM to 51555
The Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. If you donate to Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma (and designate your gift to that disaster) 100 percent of the gift will be used in support of that event.