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Amelia Islander

Northeast Florida’s Salvation Army Doing Good Deeds for Nearly 125 years

Nov 17, 2014 02:00AM
The Salvation Army, through its broad range of services touches the lives of one out of every eight people in our community. The Salvation Army began serving the people of Northeast Florida in 1891. Since that time, they have been providing food, clothing, shelter and countless services to assist those in need. In 1910, they were able to purchase the Jacksonville Church Street property where the Senior Center presently stands. With soldiers returning from battlefields and families losing members to the fighting, World War II brought a major increase in the number of people who needed help. In 1924, The Salvation Army started the Adult Rehabilitation program for men struggling with addictions such as alcoholism and drug abuse. Today, the ARC, located on Beach Boulevard in Jacksonville, houses 125 men battling the disease of addiction. The Senior Center opened in 1955 and remains the oldest Senior Center in the city. The Misdemeanant Probation program started in 1974 and in 1978 the Florida Legislature passed The Salvation Army Act, allowing private agencies to begin charging a cost of supervised fee.

In 1985 the Women’s Auxiliary organization of Northeast Florida was officially chartered. Two years later, the Celebrity Chefs Tasting and Silent Auction was born. To date, the annual event has raised more than 2 million dollars to support The Salvation Army programs. Other milestone events include the start of the Night Feeding Program (still serving dinner 7 nights a week) in 1997, the opening of the 5-Star Child Development Center in downtown Jacksonville in 1998, and Cold Night Shelter in 2001. Growth and expansion was not limited to the Jacksonville facilities. In 2003, a beautiful, new building dedicated to the Clay County Corps was constructed in Middleburg and in 2005, St Johns County Corps opened a new facility on S.R. 207. Currently, St Johns County is building a new home closer to downtown St. Augustine. Most recently, the Northeas Florida Command assumed operations in Baker and Putnam counties, bringing the total number of counties served to six.

The Salvation Army Hope House, located in Fernandina Beach, is operated under the leadership of Mary Moore, a longtime Nassau County resident, with an extensive social services background. At present, the Hope House is in need of blankets and warm men’s clothing. They also need staples for their food pantry, and to round out their emergency food bags. Items needed are peanut butter, jelly, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, boxed meals, stuffing, mashed potatoes, canned meats and stews, canned fruit, soups, dried beans and peas, and breakfast food. The Hope House is also looking for people to shop for Senior Angels, and to ring the Red Kettle Bells. Bring your food donations to the Hope House at 410 South 8th Street. For more information about the Hope House, the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida, or if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, call (904) 321-0435.