Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gifts and Giving

At this time of year, I get really excited about presents. Don't you? I love to buy them, to give them, and to open them! And when I finally pause and remember that God already gave us the best gift, I get even more excited!  This is His gift: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

What can we give in return after having received God's best gift? Matthew 10:8 is one of my absolute favorite scriptures in the Bible. It says "Freely you have received, freely give." This verse is not talking about actual presents, but about your talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts. It reminds me of  what was given to me, how many blessings I truly have (health, home, family, a great church, friends and a job), and then nudges me again and again to "give." Sometimes it's giving time/volunteering, sometimes it's money and other times its an act of service.

During this Christmas season, I encourage you to take time and search your heart, really listen to that still small voice. What is it that God is asking of you? What can you give? Then, say "yes."

Donate Today or text TULSAVOL to 27138 to get a monthly volunteering reminder from us.

God Bless,

Rhonda McDaniel, Volunteer Coordinator

Friday, December 16, 2011

Random acts of kindness

 A few days ago a reporter asked me if we had experienced any random acts of kindness this Christmas season. Yes, Yes, YES!!! Here’s a quiz: What do these groups have in common? Tulsa Belly Dance Academy, Celebrity Attraction’s “The Addams Family”, CFSII , Social MediaTulsa and dog owners. You guessed it: they have all donated toys, treasure and time to The Salvation Army this holiday.
Thanks to Social Media Tulsa
& Captured Charms Photography
When the Belly Dance Academy held its holiday performance, they discounted admission for people who brought toys to donate to us. Celebrity Attractions is offering a pre-sale on tickets to the musical “The Addams Family” and will give us $5 from every ticket sold. The 200 employees at CFSII adopted 300 Angel Tree families. Social Media Tulsa hosted several meet ups to collect toys, then sorted toys for their “Tweet for Toys” event. I cannot leave out Morgan Caywood, the wonderful young woman who three years ago started the Bark Park Toy Drive, when dog owners (and their dogs) gather at a Bark Park and collect toys for us. Two of the three years Morgan and her friends have endured dreadful weather and the perennial question “Are we supposed to bring a toy for a dog?” The list above is really the short list, because people call every week offering something we need, even if it’s just a word of encouragement. Random? Yes! Kindness? Yes! More to come? Yes, yes and yes!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shout Out to KHITS

Carly Rush is a good sport. Anyone who used to listen to Carly in the mornings on the late, great KBEZ knows that. KBEZ has changed to BOB FM and Carly is promotions director for BOB and K-HITS 106.9 FM. For the second year, Carly has headed the Stuff the K-HITS RV Campaign. Carly parked the K-HITS RV at area Walmarts from Monday to Friday last week and welcomed people who donate toys. I caught up with the KHITS RV Friday in Owasso and it took me 20 minutes just to find a parking place on the back 40.
Monday, under my excellent parking supervision, Carly started to drive the RV into our toy warehouse until Rick Thompson, our savvy maintenance manager, told me it was too tall. It meant Carly had to take the RV all the way around the building again, and the driveway had turned into an obstacle course of vans, trucks and a giant Ryder truck. She made it and I asked teenage volunteers to unload the hundreds of toys while Carly and I drank coffee and ate brownies. The Christmas season at The Salvation Army is what I call ‘crazy busy’ but it’s all worth it, especially when I can have a few relaxed minutes with a friend who cares so much about people who need help. It makes it all worthwhile. Thank you K-HITS and thank you Carly!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Angels at American

American Airlines’ announcement of bankruptcy hit home with me – my husband Gary works for AA. Yet I was surprised when I got several calls from reporters asking if we’re worried about getting AA’s support during Christmas. It never crossed my mind to worry. Every year for the past five years AA employees have adopted 1,000 angels from our Angel Tree. With more than 8,000 kids to buy toys for, AA puts a major dent in our shopping list. And the best thing is that they start early! I was so surprised to run into Wendyl Griffin in our warehouse early last month – he delivered three truckloads of toys from AA before it was even December. Today, out at the maintenance base, we thanked AA in front of the media. AA managing director Paul Creider told reporters how much the Angel Tree program means to employees. Jeff Buckingham from AA Communications told me that he always rings bells with his son’s Boy Scout troop. Today Wendyl will deliver more truckloads of toys – not one less toy than AA donated before filing for bankruptcy. The company may be bankrupt but the hearts of AA employees are doing just fine. Thank you, American Airlines.


Bedlam. Really.

It was a more than a week ago, and everyone is still talking about the Bedlam game, so I’m going to talk about it too. I went to a Bedlam Watch Party with the best food in Tulsa: Hot wings, spinach dip, chili, cookies… you name it, we had it. Ginormous TV: check. Cheering and shouting: check. People in pajamas: check. TV reporters: check. My party was at the Center of Hope and my hostess was Cathy Kumm, an amazing woman who during the week heads up our Emergency Financial Assistance program. Cathy hears a lot of sad stories during the week, and sometimes she has to tell people who apply for financial assistance that they don’t qualify. It’s a tough job and Cathy deserves all the fun she can have. So six years ago, she started hosting a Bedlam party at the Center. She did it as a volunteer, it’s certainly not in her job description. Cathy’s idea was to help guests at the center by giving them an experience they would likely have if they had a home. Her grandsons started helping her host it as young children and now they are teens. More than 80 guests came Saturday night, and their ages ranged from newborn to elderly. I invited reporters and during interviews Cathy told them she received a lot more from hosting the party than she thought she gave. “It warms my heart,” she said. Mine too.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Merritt’s Bakery Makes Holiday Giving So Much Sweeter

I’m new to the world of fundraising and started working as the Director of Fundraising for The Salvation Army of Metro Tulsa right before the busiest time of the year: Christmas. It’s been amazing to see how much our community is willing to help those in need, but one company is stepping up big this holiday season.

Merritt’s Bakery is known for its delicious cookies (the thumbprint cookies are my favorite – and the most popular), yummy cakes and other wonderful pastries. The holidays are the busiest time of year for Merritt’s, but that’s not stopping the company from helping the Salvation Army in Tulsa.

Merritt’s will be a drop-off site for our annual Toy Drive. People can bring a new, unwrapped toy to any of Merritt’s three stores and simply drop it in the box located near the entrance.

The bakery will also have a couple of red kettles located on counters inside each store. If you have a few dollars, or some leftover change, drop it in one of those kettles. The red counter kettles will be in stores from November 17th-December 24th.

But that’s not all. Merritt’s Bakery is also providing fifteen dozen donuts a week to our bellringers during our Kettle Campaign. Our bellringers stand on their feet for hours. If it’s raining, snowing, or the weather is bitter cold, our bellringers will still be outside, standing, ringing those bells. The donation from Merritt’s Bakery is a great way to say thanks to these bellringers who are working hard to help the needy this holiday season.

All of this comes after a partnership with Merritt’s Bakery this summer for “Donut Day.” The event benefitted The Salvation Army and raised funds for our essential programs!

Thank you Merritt’s Bakery. It is this type of generosity that reminds us what is important this season: helping EVERYONE have a good holiday.

-Carrie Salce

Friday, December 2, 2011

My first bell ringing experience

This year marks my third Christmas with The Salvation Army. (Those who work here judge seniority by this and not the number of years actually worked.) My first year I volunteered sorting toys at the Joy Center and counting our kettles. Both were real eye-openers to the generosity of our volunteers and donors. My second Christmas I wanted to try something new so did the toy sorting, kettle counting and added in the Angel Tree experience at the mall. I should have written an entire blog about how much I learned there! This year I knew what I wanted to do, and this week I did it!
Rhonda & Matt
I was a bell ringer! I spent three hours ringing the bell in front of the Reasor's at 17th and Yale. A number of the staff at my office did too (thanks Rhonda & Matt, Paula, David, Carrie, Arnie, Ann and Rick)! I did a morning shift and two in the evening. I have a renewed respect for anyone who does it. Below are a few of my random thoughts for you to enjoy.

Smile at your bell ringer and don't be scared to strike up a conversation. So many people said kind things for me and it made me feel wonderful, I enjoyed a lot of the conversations I had.
You don't have to apologize to a bell ringer if you don't have change. Just double up next time (kidding!!).
Standing in front of all those people spreading a little Christmas cheer felt really good (if it was a little cold)!

Carrie and Rocco
Kids who put money in the kettle are the cutest. One employee told me that an older little boy came up to the kettle with his toddler baby sister. He dropped his coins in the kettle no problem and a big smile on his face. His little sister reached up as high as she could and struggled to get her coins into the slot. "It's her first time," the older brother explained. It's never too early to learn how to put money in a kettle!


You have lots of great moments ringing a bell, sign up individually or as a group today! 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shout out to Tulsa Gold & Silver

The first Salvation Army Tulsa Area Command was formed in 1906, so it’s not surprising that our connections reach far and wide. Recently, a historic Salvation Army connection and a lot of generosity resulted in great partnership. When our new special events and fundraising director Carrie Salce had just about given up finding a sponsor to match our kettle income for an entire Saturday, she opened her e-mail and found a message from John Davis, the owner of Tulsa Gold & Silver. He pledged to match ALL kettle donations up to $10,000 on Saturday, Dec. 3!  There was more than a little excitement in the development department and hugs all around. John’s generous check could not have come at a better time. (I’ve found that life’s events often unfold that way.) It turns out that John’s wife, Rachel, is a longtime friend of one of my favorite coworkers, Elaine Story. Elaine is a lifelong Salvationist who grew up in a Salvation Army Corps (church) in West Tulsa. Rachel’s parents were officers at the West Tulsa Corps when Rachel was a teenager. When she was older, Rachel and Elaine worked together at the Salvation Army Tulsa City Command, which later became the Tulsa Area Command. So when you’re out and about Saturday and see Tulsa Gold & Silver’s signs on the kettles, remember your gift will be DOUBLED and give generously! Also, if you don't mind – visit their store on 41st and Memorial and thank them for us!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Calendar guys to attend luncheon & fashion show

The excitement is building for the 58th Annual Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary Christmas Luncheon &  Fashion Show to be held a week from yesterday. Beth Dennis, chair of the fashion show, and Judy White, manager of Miss Jackson’s, were guests on Good Day Tulsa  yesterday and I got to hang with them at KTUL-Tulsa’s Channel 8 while waiting for their segment.  KTUL is on top of Lookout Mountain in west Tulsa. Once, on my drive there very early in the morning, I picked the wrong street to take me up the mountain and I ended up in someone’s driveway. It was so isolated and wooded, I felt like if I went a few more feet I was going to run into a still. I’m from Southwest Virginia, so I know what I’m talking about. Anyway, Beth is so conscientious, she always has Carolyn Schutte, another auxiliary member, drive her to KTUL because Carolyn knows West Tulsa. Beth and Judy showed off a $2,000 diamond necklace donated by Moody’s Jewelry that will be auctioned. One of the most unusual items to bid on has to be dinner at a fire station with some of Tulsa’s finest firefighters. Two of the Tulsa Fire Department calendar models will be at the luncheon to encourage bidding on the dinner. I’m picturing a frenzy of bidding over the firemen dinner. You can be part of the action too – just call Jackie Pizarro at 918-369-9117 to make your reservation. See you there!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Girls swim an AMAZING number of laps in Broken Arrow

There are so many kids of staffers at the Broken Arrow Boys & Girls Club that it's hard to keep them straight.  But I’ll try, because two of them did something really outstanding recently and I want to congratulate them. The Aquatics Program staff at BA consists of Shelley Cramer, athletic director and Donna Burdick, aquatics director. These women along with club director Janis Fraley dreamed up an event thtat not only honored veterans on Veterans Day but encouraged them to stay heart healthy. The women named their event the Liquid Cardiothon, which I thought sounded like something a college fraternity would sponsor, but hey - they know what works in Broken Arrow! The idea was to have someone active in their indoor pool from 11 a.m. on Veterans Day to 11 a.m. on the following Saturday. Donna called me the following Monday, still excited about the event. She said they had someone coming or going from the club all hours of the night. But back to the children of staffers: Shelley’s daughters Neriah, 15, and Miai, 12, each stayed in the pool for all 24 hours. Neriah swam 1,700 laps and Miai swam 800 laps. I still can’t believe it – it’s all I can do to swim 20 laps! Congratulations girls – you rock!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Call in the Marines!

I’m still trying to catch my breath. Last week the number of people who have signed up for Christmas assistance climbed to 8,896. But as the numbers ramped up, so did the Tulsa community. Thursday, our longtime supporters, KTUL-Tulsa’s Channel 8 and Bank of Oklahoma, kicked off a toy drive to provide gifts for the forgotten angels – the kids and seniors people don’t adopt from the Angel Trees.

An hour later, we kicked off the Red Kettle Campaign at the Reasor’s on 15th and Lewis. We had wanted to honor veterans at our kick off and Jason Wolfe, a combat-decorated Army vet who counsels homeless veterans at the Center of Hope helped us out. I had lined up a retired Marine who still had his dress uniform to “guard” the Giant Red Kettle, but he had a last-minute conflict. But, just before the kick off began, TWO young Marines in their dress uniforms turned up!  Steve Lehto of Reasor’s gave us a check for $5,000. 

At 5:30 a.m. the next day, Jim Carey and Natalie Cash of K95 FM’s Cash & Carey Morning Show started “Occupy Krispy Kreme” and adopted out 400 angels. Their original goal had been 200 angels but by 9:30 a.m. they ran out of angels. We were happy to bring them 200 more and they found homes for all of them!

On Saturday, we held the Angel Tree Opening Ceremony at Tulsa’s Promenade and Woodland Hills mall, which KOTV-Channel 6 has sponsored longer than anyone can remember. Rich Lenz and LeAnne Taylor selected their angels from the trees and the Brass Band played. Thank you, Tulsa – 10,048 people are going to have a Christmas because of you!


Thursday, November 17, 2011


Natalie Cash and Jim Carey, hosts of the Cash & Carey Morning Show on K95.5 fm, will lead a new protest movement Friday called “Occupy Krispy Kreme.”  They will stay at Krispy Kreme from 5:30 a.m. until 200 “angels” are adopted from The Salvation Army Angel Trees or until 5:30 p.m., whichever comes first.  The Angel Trees have tags with the first names of thousands of kids whose parents have signed up for Christmas assistance from The Salvation Army.

A General Assembly will be held at 9 a.m. Friday at Krispy Kreme,  located at 10128 E. 71st. St. “We will discuss all issues pertaining to the Occupy Krispy Kreme movement, including but not limited to…adopting angels and eating donuts,” Cash said. “We’re exercising our First Amendment right to assemble peaceably on the grounds of Krispy Kreme and we’re prepared to occupy this ground until we adopt out every Angel on the Cash & Carey Salvation Army Angel Tree,” Carey said.

The Salvation Army never supports political causes but is making an exception for this event. “Starting a new protest movement is a tough job, but Cash and Carey will meet the challenge,” said Major Roy Williams, Salvation Army Tulsa Area Commander. “Occupy Krispy Kreme is a protest everyone should support.”

Cash and Carey are encouraging the police to converge on their Occupy Movement.  “We will not resist. We will give you donuts and thank you for your hard work,” Carey said. Unlike other “occupy” movements, Occupy Krispy Kreme has a clear purpose.  “Every kid deserves a Christmas present,” Cash and Carey said. 

Help! We’re serving 4,200 families this Christmas!

This summer, about the time our neighbor Yale Avenue Presbyterian Church put up a sign saying “Satan called. He wants his weather back,” we started accepting applications for Christmas assistance. Families came to the warehouse in our new headquarters.  And came, and came and came. Mothers with babies. Mothers with toddlers in strollers. Mothers with toddlers we wished were in strollers. In all, we will be providing for 4,200 families this Christmas. That’s 700 more families than we helped last year. Here’s how you and your friends can help: drop money in a red kettle – our bell ringers go out to 100 stores today and will be there until Dec. 24. Drop a new unwrapped toy in a collection box at any of the 36 Bank of Oklahoma locations. You’ll also find toy boxes at Woodland Hills Mall,  Tulsa’s Promenade mall and at the BOK Center during events. While you’re at the mall, adopt an Angel from our Angel Trees. You have until Dec. 12 to get your toy back to the mall. Click to donate online, or call K95.5 Friday during "Occupy Krispy Kreme" to adopt an Angel. You can text JOY to 85944 and make a one-time donation of $10.  Or give the old fashioned way by mailing a check to Salvation Army, PO Box 397, Tulsa, OK 74101.
And watch this blog for more opportunities to help us help the people who really need it this Christmas.


Friday, November 11, 2011

United Way celebrates

A bunch of us from the office attended the great “reveal” for the Tulsa Area United Way last night, and oh, what a night! It was in the new Lorton Hall at TU, which is beautiful. TAUW director Mark Graham pointed out that the artwork lining the halls was done by TU students and mentioned a print by Picasso in the same sentence. Campaign chair Jim Bender from Williams didn’t let him get away with that. “Every day I learn something new about Tulsa, and tonight I learned that Pablo Picasso graduated from TU. He’s a good painter too,” Jim said. We were all laughing and revved up as we waited to see how Mark would do the reveal. Picture a pregnant woman in a white t-shirt with a giant dollar sign. She came up on stage followed by eight people, young and old, with numbers on their t-shirts. As it turned out, each person had been helped in some way by a United Way agency. Then Mark brought his 85-year-old mother on stage and told how she and his father had been helped by three United Way agencies. He said that everyone on stage “looked like you and me, because they are you and me.” It was the perfect thing to say.

Every day I work for the Salvation Army I think, ‘but for the grace of God, there go I.’ Mark wore the number four and a young man to his left wore a two. The 24 million dollar goal was reached and thousands of people will be helped in 2012. Thank you to everyone who worked on the campaign and the United Way.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sapulpa Boys & Girls Club instructors get creative

 I love water aerobics. There’s just something so relaxing about being in the water with a bunch of friends. And unlike Jazzercize, for example, where instructors have bodies like beauty pageant contestants, in every water aerobics class I’ve taken, the instructor has had a body more like mine. I like that, and apparently so do 31 water exercisers in Sapulpa. The water aerobics classes taught mornings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Boys & Girls Club, used to have about eight to 12 students. Then volunteer water aerobics teacher Darlene Roberts and head lifeguard Mary Swan told class members that if they could get attendance up to 30, they  would hold a drawing for five free classes. Last week, there were 31 students in the class and the ladies are hopeful the trend will continue.  However, the doubled class size has created one problem: each student needs two water noodles and they’re down to just a few.  I’m confident Mary and Darlene won’t let it slow the class down. These women have creativity and drive to spare.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Learning Smart Moves

Since I’ve been blogging about drug addiction and the Salvation Army, here, here and here I’ve learned about the importance of prevention. I also learned that we now have a national expert on kids and drug prevention among our staff, Greg Parker.  Greg became a national trainer for the Boys & Girls Club Smart Moves program this summer. He’s one of six specially trained Smart Moves instructors and the only one in the country from The Salvation Army. Smart Moves instructors teach kids 5 to 15 to make healthy choices and avoid using alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. 

The younger kids do fun activities related to the subject, such as drawing pictures of their families and creating collages. But what I found the most surprising is that the primary activity for the 13-15 age group is journaling. At the Sand Springs club, kids spend an hour every Thursday afternoon writing in their journals. Then while the kids watch, the instructor locks the journals up until the next Thursday. Nobody gets to read them. I would have loved having that kind of privacy at that challenging age -- to know that I could write anything, absolutely anything, in my journal and my mother couldn’t read it!  Greg and I talked about how much easier it is for kids to talk to adults at the club about their issues when they’re also writing about them in their journal. Sounds like a smart program to me.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Project Able helps recovering addicts rebuild their lives

I got to know John Oak when he was completing Project Able, a program at the Center of Hope that helps homeless people who are clean and sober get back in the workforce and in their own home. John stopped by to visit me last week and when I told him I was working on a story about meth addiction, he told me his story. He said he started using alcohol and pot when he was 14 and dropped out of school at 15. I’ve noticed that this is the age many addicts get started. John said he moved on to cocaine and acid, started cooking meth when he was 29 and immediately became addicted. His life became a roller coaster ride of incarcerations and rehabilitation programs that didn’t work. But in 2006, he started a prison rehab program called First Step, and began his recovery. I was surprised that First Step didn’t have a spiritual component, but still worked. John said it was the desire to build a new relationship with his father that allowed him to focus on his recovery and rebuild his life. He got out of prison in 2008 and showed up at the Center of Hope “with nothing but the clothes on my back.” He joined Project Able. He went back to work for his old employer, riding his bike the twenty miles from the Center to work and back five days a week. I admire that. John saved up enough money during his two years in Project Able to make the down payment on a new mobile home, where he now lives. Congratulations on your new life, John. You’ve worked hard to earn everything you have. Now it’s time to enjoy it!


Friday, October 28, 2011

In praise of three gentlemen

Last week one of my coworkers told me a story that made me think that chivalry is not dead, that there are men (other than my husband) who are true gentlemen. The story was that after the Women’s Leadership Council toured the Center of Hope, the head of Social Services, Ronn Glosson, stood in the parking lot to make sure the visitors got safely in their cars and on their way. What I didn’t see was that he also stayed in the parking lot until the last female staff member drove away (It was Lindsay and she was checking voicemail and playing with her iPhone, she felt guilty when she realized he had been waiting for her to leave). He went beyond what was expected of him because that’s who he is. I thought I would blog about it as soon as I had a small collection of stories about gentlemen, never dreaming that I’d meet the next one two days later.

A radio show host was recording an interview with last year’s top bell ringer, Samuel Folks. Samuel is 60, soft spoken and mannerly. He revealed that he had been on the first all-black youth baseball team in Tulsa that was allowed in an all-white league. When the interviewer asked him if he had experienced racial injustice, he replied “I’ve found that when you’re looking for racial injustice you’ll find it. When you’re not looking, you don’t find it.” I can only guess that even as a youth, Samuel handled himself with dignity whether he was treated with dignity or not.

My third brush with a gentleman happened the same week at a celebration of Dick Williamson’s 40 years with TD Williamson. Dick is not only on our advisory board, but also on the National Salvation Army board. He also volunteers extensively. His company’s motto is “Integrity, Initiative, Interdependence.” Employees characterize him as a “servant leader,” and I can see that in his humble style and quiet leadership. I first met Dick when he taught a Sunday School class I attended 15 years ago. In eight days, I’ve gathered enough information for a post that I thought would take months to do. Thank you, gentlemen, you enrich life for all of us.


Friday, October 21, 2011

National advocate for the homeless stops in Tulsa

Mark Hovarth was in Tulsa today as part of his tour to end homelessness. Mark is known to social media fans as @hardlynormal and for his blog, Center of Hope Case Manager Gale Baker gave him a tour of the Center of Hope  and lined up shelter guests for him to film. When Mark interviewed several of our guests from the Center, he told them that he is homeless, yet I noticed he was driving an expensive car, was staying at the Hyatt Regency and wearing an expensive-looking jacket, so I asked about it. He said everyone does. He said that people don’t have to suffer to relieve suffering. It turns out that the Hyatt Regency donated his stay and GM gave him his car to help him with his cause. That's so generous!

Mark seemed impressed by the size of the Center of Hope and the scope of our programs. I had read about his many accomplishments with helping homeless people and asked him what he considered his greatest contribution.  He said he never would have expected all the remarkable things that have happened so far, such as someone donating land for a garden to feed the homeless and  a college donating two full scholarships to those facing homelessness.  He said he’s not going to predict because his greatest accomplishment is yet to come. He said he does the best he can with the gifts God gave him and God takes care of the rest.
Safe travels, Mark, come see us again.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Women's Leadership Council

I saw something at the Center of Hope that touched me yesterday. I was at a meeting of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) of the Tulsa Area United Way. The Women's Leadership Council is a new organization of business and community leaders who have a passion for improving the lives of those less fortunate in the Tulsa area.

The women in WLC are leaders in philanthropy, business and both. Center of Hope director Arletta Robinson took the group of 20 to the second story to see the men’s dorm. It took two elevator rides to fit in the whole group. I was waiting with the women for the second elevator when in walked a couple with two strollers. One stroller held an infant, the other a toddler, a little boy who clearly wanted to be out of the stroller. A woman with our group on the elevator saw the family and looked absolutely stricken. The words “so sad!” slipped out of her mouth before she could stop them, but thankfully, the parents were so busy keeping the little boy under control, they didn’t hear. For the rest of the tour, I saw the same woman fighting tears. Most people don’t know that families stay at the Center of Hope. But when they see that they do, it changes their impression of who we serve forever.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas coming to Sand Springs

Are you in Sand Springs? Do you know someone in need in the area? We will begin Christmas assistance registration on Monday, Oct. 24 and will continue through Oct. 27 from 9a.m.-5p.m. daily. Parents will need to bring photo ID's for all the adults in the household, Birth certificates for each child in the home, proof of all income and expenses and clothing sizes for each child.

We are also looking for a few good Sandites to help us raise vital funds via the Red Kettle Campaign. Volunteers/groups wishing to sign-up can contact Captain Patrick T. Gesner by email at or by phone at (918)245-2237 ext. 1611 to check available dates and times. Individuals looking for some extra cash for the holiday season can also apply to work full-time or part-time as bell ringers for this campaign. The dates of employment will be from November 17th through Christmas Day.
-Captain Gesner

Monday, October 17, 2011

Make Your Mark, Help Feed the Hungry

Did you know that in the U.S., 49 million people go hungry every day? Did you know that, together, people like you and I can make a difference? This week is a national volunteer week for youth and Saturday, October 22nd is Make a Difference Day for all Americans. The Salvation Army and our Boys & Girls Clubs are joining over 1,400 others pledged to help the issue of hunger in America during Make Your Mark Week and Make a Difference Day.

Join us by donating non-perishable food items during a food drive this week, October 16-22nd. All food raised will go to needy families in the Tulsa Metro Area. You can drop off non-perishable food items at any Boys & Girls Club (Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Sapulpa or Tulsa) or the Area Command Office (924 S. Hudson, Tulsa). Having trouble finding us, call 918-587-7801.

Read more about Make Your Mark Week and  Make a Difference Day.

-Rhonda, Volunteer Coordinator

Baseball team plays Dodgeball at West Mabee

When I reached the doors to the gym at the West Mabee Boys & Girls Club it seemed as if the room could hardly contain the shouts of pure, unbridled joy. And that was just from the grownups. The ORU Golden Eagles baseball team had come to play with the West Mabee kids and there was shouting, screaming and peals of laughter. The game was Dodgeball, but not your mother’s Dodgeball.

The 33 baseball players combined with 22 club kids to form two opposing teams. Then about 20 different colored balls were lined up in the middle of the gym, a whistle blew and it was mass mayhem as both teams rushed to grab a ball and throw it at someone. That’s all I can tell you about the rules. It did seem like one of those games where size didn’t matter, I decided, as one very little girl threw the ball at one very large baseball player. I don’t think her aim was intentional, but the guys in the stands roared with laughter as he winced in pain. I had not realized that ORU sends volunteers to West Mabee every Wednesday to help with their homework. The club’s program director Latrica Baldwin said it was the first time the baseball team had come to West Mabee and the kids loved it. If they had half as much fun as the adults, it was a great afternoon.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Getting clean at the ARC

It is not hard to see why Reggie Kelly believes his greatest skill is working with people. He’s a large, muscular man with a contagious smile. It is hard to see him as the crack cocaine addict he says he used to be, so caught up in the violence of the drug community that he was once dragged on the ground behind a truck for so long that stripped the skin off his body and left him with a crushed ankle. He says his ankle is held together with three pins and his life is held together with a structured lifestyle, accountability to peers who are recovering drug addicts and belief in Christ. In previous posts, I’ve written about meth addiction, but The Salvation Army helps people with all kinds of addictions. Reggie lives and works as a resident manager in The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), along with 70 other men recovering from substance abuse.

Before I started to work for the Army, I had long been a shopper at the ARC Family Store on 45th and Peoria. I had no idea that when I donated or bought something at the store, I was helping men recovering from substance abuse. The men work 40 hour weeks at the stores, and in the evenings, they participate in Bible studies and a Christian 12 Step Program called Celebrate Recovery. Reggie says he has been convicted of drug-related felonies seven times and served five different prison terms. But unlike the men I had heard about who are court ordered to the ARC, he checked himself in to work out the issues that he said had haunted him since before he first started using alcohol and marijuana at 15. He proudly told me that he has been clean and sober for 10 months. His advice to kids about drug use? “Don’t start. Drugs are not a solution to whatever you’re going through. Get into a church and learn who Jesus Christ is. He is the solution.” Thank you, Reggie, for sharing your story. I wish you the best in your recovery and your life.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Voices of Hope – come back!

In talking with Gwen Bess, another thing I learned is that Voices of Hope is in limbo. You might have seen the story about Voices of Hope on the Tulsa World website. The choir started because some Center of Hope guests wanted a singing group and asked Gwen for help. She found a music director and they used the Center chapel for practice. The choir performed in churches and for a Christmas lunch attended by 600. Gwen said even choir members who are still around the shelter stopped coming to practice. I felt disappointed, but even more disappointed than me is a Jenks High School junior named Michael. He saw the story on the World’s website and had planned to make a film about the choir for a class. He filmed a choir practice in May and it turned out so well that his teacher was looking forward to entering his film in the “Sundance of student film competitions” which Jenks has placed in before. To watch their winning film, go here and enjoy. In the mean time, here’s a message to Susan and Stormy and Big John and Evelyn: Come back to choir. There’s a kid who was counting on you!