Monday, May 9, 2011

Salvation Army Uses Facebook to Take Prayer Requests for Disaster Survivors

Tuscaloosa, AL - May 07, 2011 – A growing list of prayer requests in blue marker continues to fill the white dry-erase board in front of The Salvation Army’s temporary disaster unit.

This morning Capt. Joe May, assigned Emotional and Spiritual Care Officer for Tuscaloosa’s disaster response, directed the requests to go viral by posting on Facebook.

Capt. May says that “using The Salvation Army Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division’s Facebook is an important medium to both get existing prayer requests out and take on additional requests.” Trained Emotional and Spiritual Care Officers are on the ground at Red Cross shelters and at mobile disaster canteens to offer support and care as individuals begin to process the gravity of this disaster.

People can go to Facebook and “Like” The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division Facebook page to post prayer requests. The current list includes:

•A mother of 4 who has 3 missing children, 1 confirmed as deceased as well as losing a brother in the storm,
•Sgt. Ruthie Forgie, corps officer in Cleveland TN, a community also hard-hit by a tornado
•Those afraid to seek help,
•The Latino Community,
•Everyone affected in Tuscaloosa and beyond,
•A warehouse for The Salvation Army’s disaster response in Tuscaloosa to begin case management and material storage
•TuscaloosaCorps Officers Majors David and Cherry Craddock
•Salvation Army staff and volunteers helping with the disaster and supporting those in the field

The Tuscaloosa Corps facility and local emergency canteen were heavily damaged in the April 27th tornado, rendering the facility and local mobile canteen inoperable. Mobile Incident Command operations at the Tuscaloosa Airport location are working to manage efforts and set up collection and distribution points around the region. Currently, no donations are being accepted at this location as there is a critical lack of storage and distribution resources.

The best way to help tornado survivors and rescue workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific and changing needs of disaster survivors. The Salvation Army asks those who want to help to visit, text “GIVE” to 80888 for a $10 donation given from your cell phone or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate their gift "April 2011 Tornado Outbreak." 

By:  Shane Autrey

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why send money when I have all this stuff I could send?

Anytime a disaster strikes there are two inevitable things that will happen.  One is that people’s lives will be affected in some way, shape or form.  The other is that people will want to donate “stuff”.
After every major disaster I have been part of, we have been inundated with donated goods.  One thing is for sure…people have big hearts and good intent.  On the surface cleaning out a closet to donate your no longer needed pair pants or t-shirts that you wore that one time only, seems like good idea.  The reality is this can be a huge burden on the disaster response.
You may have noticed during big national level or even larger local disasters that disaster relief agencies (including The Salvation Army) will ask only for monetary gifts and not in-kind donations.  There are good reasons for this which you may or may not be aware of.
First, a cash gift is much easier to handle.  When a cash gift is donated it is immediately tracked from start to finish and can be applied to specific needs as they come to light.  With in-kind goods a lot of infrastructure is required to make those gifts manageable and able to be delivered to those in need.  Warehouses must be secured, trucks lined up to transfer the goods, mechanisms in place to get the goods to the disaster survivors…and the list goes on.  Much of this requires a lot of time and energy on the part of the agencies and their volunteers and ultimately will take longer to get into the hands of those that need it most.
One of the other benefits of a cash gift is that it can be used to purchase exactly what is needed.  At times we will request specific items for donation, but most of the time it is more efficient to ask for monetary donations and purchase exactly what is needed to ensure we get the proper items.  A good example is water.  We could easily ask the public for water and could get any form of water under the sun, 20 oz bottles, 16 oz bottles, 1 gallon jugs, 1 liter jugs… When we ask for monetary gifts we can purchase exactly what is needed and only as much as is needed, allowing us to use the money saved for other needs of the disaster survivors.
One of the biggest benefits of cash gifts is one that we don’t always see on the surface, and that’s the economic impact.  Whenever we purchase goods during disaster we always try to do so within (or as close to as possible to), the disaster affected region.  This helps to boost the local economy which is always hard hit following the impact on the local community.  At the same time monetary gifts allow us to purchase and utilize debit/gift cards for disaster survivors to spend within the community while also buying those specific items that they as a family need, not limited by only the items we have on hand.
Disasters are always unique, and thus so are the needs of those affected.  It is hard to just say “send this or that, because they always needed it”.  The truth is, we never know what the needs of individual communities may be, but cash gifts always allow us to best meet those needs…whatever they may be.

You can help by making a donation to disaster relief by going to  Our donors are the ones that make our service to other possible, so help us to help those in need.

Robert Myers,
EDS Director

Tornado Response Update - Day 5

Our first report we entered was within 36 hours of the tornadoes touching down across the southern states.  Since the The Salvation Army has been providing a massive amount of support to those affected by the storms.  Below is a a snapshot of the info from across those affected states.

Atlanta, GA (USA South Headquarters) – Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) personnel continue to meet material, emotional, and spiritual needs across the southern United States.  Currently, EDS crews are at work in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. 

After five days of intense service, several locations are scaling back response efforts while some locations hit particularly hard by the storms are still in need of daily feeding and spiritual care.

Alabama/Mississippi – Currently, 40 Salvation Army ESD feeding units and one shower trailer are actively serving in Mississippi and Alabama.  Over the last five days, tens of thousands of meals and drinks have been distributed.  On Friday and Saturday alone, EDS teams served 30,820 meals and 51,072 drinks.  1,314 people received emotional and spiritual care so crucial to Salvation Army disaster response. 

Arkansas – EDS personnel continue to monitor rising water levels which have reached major flood stage in 9 counties.  At present, one mobile feeding unit is serving Randolph County.  Approximately 5,000 meals have been served since Monday. 

Georgia – While operations are beginning to wind down, several units are still serving the field.  At the request of FEMA, a mobile feeding unit will remain in Spalding County, as will a social service representative in Harold County.  Additionally, operations will continue in Catoosa and Walker counties through the end of the week.  Teams have served 8,596 meals and 4,195 drinks in Spalding, 720 meals and 1,490 drinks in Rome, and 120 meals and 350 drinks in Cartersville.

Kentucky/Tennessee/Virginia – EDS operations will diminish in Henderson, Murfreesboro and Clarksville, TN as local resources are once again available for storm survivors.  In Chattanooga and Cleveland, TN as well as North Georgia, EDS crews are increasing their meal, beverage, and emotional/spiritual care services to keep pace with the needs of communities hit hard by the storms.  A strong presence remains in Dyersburg, TN, Greenville, TN, Washington County, VA, and Henderson, KY.  As of Sunday morning, 800 volunteers had logged 7,000 hours while helping staff serve approximately 14,500 meals throughout the division.

For more information regarding ongoing relief efforts, please visit the Newsroom at

The Salvation Army is grateful to the public for their continued support.

The best way to help tornado survivors and rescue workers is to make a financial contribution. Monetary donations allow disaster responders to immediately meet the specific needs of disaster survivors.  The Salvation Army asks those who want to help to visit or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) and designate their gift "April 2011 Tornado Outbreak."