Monday, December 31, 2012

Paint Brushes, Sketch Pads and Glue, Oh My!: Donation Provides Supplies for Arts Classes

It isn’t unusual to hear happy sounds coming from the children at the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club. (Except, perhaps, during homework time.)

But recently, those sounds were loud squeals of delight when the children watched representatives from JPMorgan Chase roll in a huge dolly overloaded with art supplies. They scrambled to get a closer look at the goodies that were being donated – reams and reams of paper, paint brushes, paint, crayons, markers, colored pencils, beads, craft sticks, pipe cleaners, yarn and more!

All talking at once, they were listing the many projects they were anticipating that would come from the gift – collages, paintings, drawing, paper mache – and on and on.
But the children weren’t the only ones with smiling faces. Kristin Bohanan, Analyst, Commercial Bank and Tulsa Volunteer Leadership Group Chair, David Stratton, Market President, Tulsa Commercial Bank and Aaron Massey, Vice President, Private Bank, all from JPMorgan Chase, couldn’t help but grin at the children’s’ reactions.

“It was fun to see how excited they were,” Bohanan said. “I wish all of our employees who donated could see the difference they’ve made with their gifts.” 

Collecting the supplies was an activity of JPMorgan Chase’s employee volunteer leadership group. The nearly 200 Tulsa area employees had the opportunity to fulfill the Mabee Center’s art supply “wish list.”

“Our employees really responded to this,” Bohanan said. 

Their gift will be put to good use. Nearly 50 children come to the Mabee Red Shield Club on a regular basis for fellowship, character development, and educational and recreational opportunities.
As with the six Boys & Girls Clubs located in the metro Tulsa area, every location is a fun place for people of all ages. Each club provides a positive place that kids can look upon as their home away from home.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Angel Tree with the Least of the These

My daughter is a 'least of these'. She's actually my foster daughter and has been in DHS custody for over a year; she and her younger brother have been with my husband and I since July of this year. They were placed with us about a week after I started my job as a grant writer here at Salvation Army. These kids are hilarious, fun, exhausting and challenging; we love it, but we are finding that we have to be very intentional about teaching them "Life Lessons,"while we can.

My husband and I have always shopped for Angels off the Angel Tree in the past, usually one for him- a boy- and one for me- a girl. This year, we have 2 little ones to buy for already, but I was loathe to give up tradition. So this year, I decided to include our foster kids.

We made it out to the Angel Tree kickoff at Promenade Mall. At age 5, Miss M (as we call her in blog-land) was unimpressed with the kickoff in general--too loud. But she did like the girls' singing group, MP3, in their matching outfits and "shiny hair."
MP3 girls group at the Angel Tree Kickoff (11/17/12)

After Kickoff, we picked out a Angel from the big tree, just her age, named "Lisbeth" and set off to pick out some gifts for "her Angel."

At first, she did a great job of picking out toys. She "ennie meenie mineie mo'd" between which Baby Alive doll 'Lisbeth' was to get- Hair Salon Baby Alive or Magic Meals Baby Alive.

Hair Salon, duh.

But she struggled a bit with stocking stuffers, as we picked out Hello Kitty stickers and pencils and Disney princess playing cards. I gently asked her if she was picking out things for herself or for Lisbeth, and she admitted they were for her. But soon we were back on the right track. 
Miss M's letter to her Angel.
Every time we added something to the bag, we would talk a little about what we were doing and why. In my own blundering, non-parental way, I tied to impress on her how it is important to share what she has, to be grateful for those who love her and that there is always someone who has less than you do. 

Miss M is pretty smart, but I think the literal and logistics of the Angel Tree, may have gotten blurry during our conversations. She asked me, the day I went to take the Angel Tree bag in to work, "How will she get them {the toys}, up in Heaven?" I stifled a giggle and tried to explain that our "Angel" was a real girl, just like her, and that she needed extra toys and we were like her personal Santa! How fun!

Santa, she understood.

And boy, I felt like Santa, when I went to check in shelve the Angel bag. I walked past row after row of shelves, 3 levels high, with toy bags packed in, till I found Lisbeth's family bag.

Turns out, she's the youngest of 4 girls. And her bag was the last one to be added to the families' bag. Those lovely little girls would all get all their hearts desired, thanks to people they didn't know.
As I marked the bag tag with a big "C" for  "Complete," I felt the warehouse dust prick my nose. And eyes. Lots of tear-inducing dust in the warehouse.
 And I don't know about you, but I've been near tears many times since (including today, as I wrote this post), thinking about the poor babies in Newtown, Connecticut. So close in age to Miss M and Lisbeth and so many of my friends' kids. So close to Christmas. Lodged in our hearts and the back of our throats.

But as a donor said to me this afternoon, as I took her donation for the Angel Tree over the phone, "it's the least I can do for kids in need, especially this Christmas."

So, do what you can. Shine a light in the dark. There is always someone more in need than you. Miss M can attest.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A Special Thank You to a Special Group of People

 “ I really appreciate all that you do, and I’ll do what I can to help to make sure you help as manypeople as you can.  There are a lot of people who need what you have to offer.”

    These are very kind words from a woman who has been a loyal Salvation Army donor for several years. I got the pleasure of meeting her at the Donor Thank You luncheon held at the Tulsa Area Command in late November. 

    We want our donors to know how much their generosity helps our mission. Whether it’s a $5 donation or a $5,000 donation, all of our donors get a thank you card.  We also send thank you cards from Advisory Board members and staff to those who give a large donation. But we wanted to do more. That’s why our Donor Relations Committee, made up of eight Advisory Board members, wanted to do a Thank You luncheon. 

Arletta Robinson, Executive Director of the Center of Hope

    We invited a small group of donors to Area Command for a holiday meal, followed by a quick program. Arletta Robinson, Executive Director of the Center of Hope, told the crowd about her case workers.  These men and women deal with people needing help the most, hearing story after story that would break the hearts of many.  

The luncheon concluded with a tour of the facility, including our Joy Center, which is full of toys and food that we will hand out to thousands of people next week. One of the donors even shed a tear during the tour, getting a better idea of what we do, and who we help. 

    The luncheon was not a fundraiser, just a simple way to say thank you to those who make it possible for us to do our work. It’s always interesting to find out why people give and important to us to let them know that they’re appreciated too. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Celebrate the Holidays with Alliday!

I love handmade stuff. In fact, I've called myself a 'craft maven' on more than one occasion. I love to DIY home decor and art and I've tried my hand at sewing pillows, curtains, even purses.

But I also recognize that I can't make everything myself (clothes, psssh) and therefore love hitting up a good craft show to see what amazing things other people make. 

One of the best craft shows around is Alliday- and I'm not just saying that because they are sponsoring a Toy Drive for us.
This year is the 3rd annual Alliday show and frankly, I'm excited to have an excuse to swing by on Saturday. Doors open at 9am on Saturday, Dec. 15th until 5pm. The Alliday Show is located at the Ford Truck Exhibit Hall at the Fairgrounds (21st and Yale) in Tulsa. Show details available on the show's website or  Facebook page.

Show organizer, Briana Shipley, is a seasoned crafter and blogger over at Bifftastica. She's also a new mom, so major kudos to her for pulling this whole thing off!

Brianna also keeps a great Alliday blog, in which she features a new show vendor each day, building up to the event. It's pretty cool. So far, she's featured candle makers, painters, silversmiths and...fudge makers. (YUM). Check it out. 

As I mentioned, Alliday is hosting a Toy Drive, benefiting the Salvation Army's Forgotten Angels. 
Angel Tree angels are due today (12/12) and at this writing, over 2,500 Angels have yet to make their way back to the Joy Center. 

We expect a tidal wave of toy bags tonight, but believe it or not, there will be Angels who don't get returned. These are the Forgetten Angels. The numerous toy drives throughout the city (14 at last count) this season will go to fill the bags of the Forgotten Angels.

The Alliday Show on 12/15 is literally the last opportunity to contribute a toy, as gift distribution will begin on 12/18. You can also bring all that change you have been holding on to because a Red Kettle and bellringer will be posted outside all day. PLUS, there is a match for funds raised in kettle on Saturday so $1 becomes $2! (Thanks to Tulsa Gold & Silver)

BUT, to sweeten the pot, if you bring a new, unwrapped toy to the Alliday Toy Drive, you can enter to win a prize pack of goodies from the artists of Alliday! Contributions from half a dozen artist and counting!

So, come on out, bring a toy, buy some awesome handmade stuff and maybe win a great prize pack! See you Saturday!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Spirit of Giving

When you work for the Salvation Army, it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. You’re surrounded by people who willingly work extra hours and spend their own money to help those who need it most this time of year. 

Although this is only my second Christmas with the Army, I’m constantly amazed at the generosity of others. 

I’ve been receiving endless amounts of phone calls from people wanting to donate anything from $25 to $2,500. 

There’s also an abundance of companies and groups wanting to do their part to help.  This list includes:
  • ORU Students & Faculty – Donated 1,270 toys and canned foods through their 5th Annual Bring Good Cheer Toy Drive
  • Jimmy’s Egg – Providing a warm breakfast for our bellringers later this month.
  • QuikTrip – Donated hundreds of coupons for our bellringers to get a warm sandwich after spending several hours in the cold weather, ringing that bell.
  • Panera – Donated bagels throughout November for our bellringers.
  • Queenies – Donated muffins, fresh out of the oven, for our bellringers earlier this month.
  • Mod’s Coffee & Crepes – For four consecutive Thursdays (November 29th, December 6th, 13th and 20th), Mod’s is donating 25% of its sales from 4pm-10pm to help get donations for our “forgotten angels.” These are angels on our angel trees that are either left on the tree, or not returned.
  • JC Penney – When shoppers check out to pay for their gifts, they’re asked if they want to give their change to the Salvation Army to help with our programs.
  • AAON and Tulsa Gold & Silver – Both companies are Matching Kettle sponsors. Aaon matched all kettle donations up to $5,000 on Saturday, December 8th. So far, December 8th has been our biggest return for donations – likely because of the kettle match. Tulsa Gold & Silver is taking it a step further, pledging to match up to $10,000 on Saturday, December 15th and $15,000 on Saturday, December 22nd.
  • Dilly Deli, Tulsa Oilers, Merritt’s Bakery, Incredible Pizza, Regal Cars, Air Power Systems, 1stStarBank and Miss Jackson’s – All of these are having toy drives for the Salvation Army. This is greatly needed, considering we have 1,000 more angels on our angel tree.
This is just a few of the many, many acts of kindness shown to the Salvation Army this holiday season. We appreciate all of these people, group and businesses for showing what this season is really about by getting into the spirit of giving! 


Friday, December 7, 2012

Kettle Matching Saturdays: $1 = $2!

    When you walk by a red kettle on Saturday, it’s more important than ever to throw in whatever change you may have with you. Why? Because that change will be doubled on the next THREE Saturdays!

    We couldn’t do this without the generosity of two businesses:
 Aaon and Tulsa Gold & Silver.

    Aaon has pledged to match every kettle donation on Saturday, December 8th up to $5,000. This means if you put in $1, it will turn into $2. When I went to thank the people at Aaon, I noticed the company also has an angel tree in its lobby to encourage employees to adopt an angel this season. Aaon definitely has the spirit of giving. 

    Tulsa Gold & Silver has taken their kettle match to the next level. The company will match kettle donations on December 15th up to $10,000 and on December 22nd up to $15,000!! Tulsa Gold & Silver has been a big supporter of the Salvation Army and has really helped our kettle campaign in the past.

 Rachel Davis, whose husband John owns Tulsa Gold & Silver, has a special connection with the Salvation Army: her parents are former officers in the Army! 

    So spread the word! If you see a red kettle, donate what you can. We have more people to help this season and we want to make sure everyone has a smile on their face when they wake up on Christmas morning!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ring A Bell, Bring A Toy, Get A Deal On A Nutcracker Ticket

Photo from
Watching the Nutcracker ballet is a tradition in my family. Every December, since the age of 4, I have put on my best holiday dress and watched the wonderful tale of a fairyland Christmas.  This year, I’m taking my 5-year-old niece!

You have a unique opportunity to watch the Nutcracker FOR FREE while also helping the Salvation Army.  We are partnering with Tulsa Ballet this Christmas to help bring cheer to the community. 

The Salvation Army is looking for volunteers to ring a bell in front of the Performing Arts Center before and after every Nutcracker performance.  The volunteers will get a free ticket to the Nutcracker and will be able to enjoy the show in between ringing the bell. Bellringing will start an hour before the show and 30 minutes afterward. So for just a few hours of your time, you can enjoy a great holiday show. 

There are eight performances:

  • Saturday, December 8th -2pm   TAKEN
  • Sunday, December 9th- 2pm
  • Saturday, December 15th- 2pm  TAKEN
  • Saturday, December 15th- 7pm  TAKEN
  • Sunday, December 16th- 2pm
  • Saturday, December 22nd- 2pm TAKEN
  • Saturday, December 22nd- 7pm TAKEN
  • Sunday, December 23rd- 2pm TAKEN

Contact Jenny McElyea, Volunteer Coordinator, for volunteer opportunities, via email or phone- 918-587-7801.

In addition, Tulsa Ballet is also holding a Toy Drive for the Salvation Army. If you bring a toy by the Tulsa Ballet building – located at 1212 E 45th Place South (near 45th & Peoria), you will get $5 off a ticket to the Nutcracker! This is a great way to get a discount, while also helped the 8,570 angels on our Angel Trees. 

Thanks to the Tulsa Ballet for helping the Salvation Army make this a happy holiday for everyone!


Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Getting It": Pre-teen Discovers Holiday Spirit

   “Look, Mom! This angel has my name and is exactly half my age!” My son had been scouring the Angel Tree at Woodland Hills Mall after the Kickoff ceremonies, looking for an angel of his own to adopt. Now 12, he announced he was old enough to pick his own angel and asked if he could spend some of his savings to buy the presents for his angel. This proud Mom said yes and gave him a big hug.

I was thrilled that he “got it.” He understood that while we might not be rich financially, we could help a child (six-year-old Riley) have Christmas presents under the tree that he wouldn’t otherwise have. (Did I say I was proud?)

Saturday, The Tulsa Area Salvation Army officially opened the Angel Tree programs at Promenade and Woodland Hills Malls. More than 12,000 angels will be up for adoption. The children and elders the paper angels on these trees represent are counting on people like me, my son, and you, the generous citizens of the Tulsa area, to help them have a Christmas. Not a great Christmas, not even necessarily a good Christmas, but a Christmas at all.

Will you join my son and me in this small act of kindness?  We’re going shopping for our angels this week so we can get them back to The Salvation Army by the deadline of December 12. 
We hope to see you out there too! 
 - DJ

Photos of the event, by DJ Morrow. 

Cash and Carry from K95FM and Lee Ann Taylor from KTUL/Channel 6 talk Angel Tree withMrs April Taylor at Woodland Hill Mass on Satursday, November 17th.

Girls Quintent "MP3" sang at both Promenade and Woodland Hill Mall Kickoff events.

Iconic Salvation Army brass band spread holiday cheer for all to hear!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Stats, Numbers and Units of Hope

As a grant writer, I'm not normally disposed to LIKE working with numbers, I much prefer finessing the English language. But, I do love me some stats.

I like seeing the service numbers from across Tulsa Area Command; I'm always impressed by the sheer breadth of impact that the Army has in Tulsa.

I think it's very important to recognize that each number represents a person, who has had their needs meet, their lives touched by their community's generosity and their heart lifted by hope for even just a few minutes.

We had a great turnout for Thanksgiving, both in volunteers and people served!

Thanksgiving Stats:
70 community volunteers served
meals to 890 guests at Center of Hope
for a total of 144 service hours, 
on Thanksgiving Day.

Thank you, Tulsa!

Now for some Christmas numbers!

Angel Tree Stats:
We have 8,570 child Angels on the trees,
and have 591 Elder Angels to serve as well.

The 4,200 Angel Tree families will receive food baskets 
with fresh fruit, milk, eggs and canned goods, 
when they come to pick up the Angels gifts.

We need your help to make Christmas as big of a success as Thanksgiving was! Canned food drives are helping to fill the canned food need, but the fresh items must be bought and stored on site.
 4200 dozen eggs
8600 gallons of milk
4200 bags of apples
4200 loaves of bread
4200 bags of oranges
4200 boxes of Bisquick
4200 packages of stuffing 

We're on our way with lots of support from our Board, but need your help to make sure every family gets a basket. 

Won't you consider sponsoring a food item?
Picking up an Angel for each angel in YOUR life?
Come volunteer your time to ring a bell, 
work a shift at the Angel Tree table 
or hand out food baskets? 

Contact, Lindsay Sparks, Development Director for a complete list of Christmas funding opportunities! Email or phone (918-587-7801)

Contact Jenny McElyea, Volunteer Coordinator, for volunteer opportunities, via email or phone- 918-587-7801.

-Vicki Thorne

Monday, November 19, 2012

Full Kettles Warm Hearts

It’s a sign that the holidays are here: big red kettles, the sounds of bells ringing and a kind bellringer wishing me a “Merry Christmas.”

The 2012 Salvation Army Kettle Campaign is officially underway and we hope to raise $650,000 this year. The goal is bigger this year because we are helping more people. The Salvation Army is providing food baskets to 4,200 families. We have 8,570 children on our Angel Trees, an increase of more than 1,000 from 2011. We’re also providing assistance to 591 Elder Angels.

The new Reasor’s in Bixby (which has a terrific salad and hot bar, by the way) helped us kick off our kettle campaign in a big way. After unveiling our $650,000 goal, store manager Anthony Fulfaro announced Reasor’s was matching donations on the first day of kettle ringing, up to $5,000. Reasor’s customers were very generous, helping us bring in $6,520.01 on our first day! 

Major Taylor also explained the history behind the red kettle and how it became a fixture at Christmastime.  In 1891, Captain Joseph McFee started a tradition to provide a free meal to the less fortunate on Christmas Day. From his days of being a sailor, he remembered seeing a big pot being used to take in donations on the streets of Liverpool, England.  Captain McFee got permission to try this idea in San Francisco and used the call of “Keep the Pot Boiling” to draw in passengers and donations.

Many people say they feel good when they drop money into one of the red kettles.  A full kettle warms the hearts of those who are giving – and receiving. 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Toys! Toys! Toys!

You may have heard the news, but the Angel Tree is loaded down with needy Angels this year. We have almost 1000 additional Angels over last year, in need of some holiday cheer.

Lindsay, our Development Director, said when the numbers came in, "We are going to need lots of toys this year! We need toy drives, toy drives, toy drives!"

And as newly crowned Queen of Toy Drives, I'm excited to tell you all that we HAVE several toy drives lined up! From the annual KTUL/BOK toy drive to a first-year drive at the Alliday Craft Show, we are excited to be working towards making Christmas fun for all of our Angels.

The most unique toy drive in Tulsa is Social Media Tulsa's annual #Tweet4Toys event. You may remember the event from last year from our Random Act of Kindness post, and this year they are back, for their 3rd annual toy drive event!

Social Media Tulsa is a unique group of technology minded folks (of which I am a proud member) who use social media tools, like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, to facilitate communication, business and community. They have meetups throughout the year and host a conference in March; you can join their Meetup group or follow along on Twitter by using the hashtag #smtulsa.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kettles Turn Green Country “Red” For the Holidays

I love the holidays: the smell of cinnamon, Santa Claus, egg nog-flavored everything and church on Christmas Eve. But what I love the most is people really show their generosity towards those who may be struggling.

Starting Thursday, November 15th, red kettles will take over green country as our 2012 kettle season begins. Everyone is familiar with the big red kettles and the bellringers, but did you know there are smaller versions of the big kettles, a “cousin,” that are also used to help those in need?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Turkey Talk

How would you feel if you were expecting 1,000 people for dinner and you didn’t have close to the amount of food you needed? 

That’s just how The Salvation Army feels right now.

We need 80 frozen turkeys and 80 frozen pre-baked pies for the Tulsa Salvation Army Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. Right now we have none. Zero. 

And we need them by Monday.

We need them by Monday so we can begin cooking everything for the 1,000 people who will come to the Center of Hope on Thanksgiving Day. They will come together to share a meal and for a brief time set aside their worries and fears and do what most of us will do that day – enjoy a holiday dinner.
We know our community has a generous heart and hope that as people are shopping for their own Thanksgiving dinner this weekend they will pick up an extra turkey or pie and bring it to the Center of Hope, 102 North Denver. 

Turkeys, pies and any canned goods can be dropped off at the Center of Hope, seven days a week, 24-hours a day. 

Won’t you help?


PS- Editor's note: DJ is here with us at The Salvation Army filling in for Sallie during her leave, we are thrilled to have her on board! 

PPS- Editor's note #2: If you can't pick up a turkey, send us a text and make a gift! You can text JOY TURKEY to 85944 to make a $10 donation toward our holiday needs!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A GREAT ride!

This year our Broken Arrow Corp and Boys & Girl Club is excited to be hosting their 11th Annual Motorcycle Toy Run! For the past few years we have partnered with Bikers Against Child Abuse to make this event a great success. On November 17th, beginning at 10:30a.m., the riders will take Kenosha (71st) all the way through Broken Arrow from Forest Ridge Golf Club to our location on 91st between Aspen & Elm.

If you haven't seen a big run like this before, it's exciting to see the bikers and their bikes entering the parking lot loaded with toys!  Salvation Army supporters greet riders with signs saying "thank you" in gratitude of their contributions to the start of our toy donation season.
“Everyone always has a great time at the Toy Run and the chili dinner,” said Captain Lori Lucas, the Corps officer who heads up the event. “We’re looking for a better-than-ever turnout this year.”
The public is welcome to join on their motorcycles with an unwrapped toy to get the full experience or come in your car and enjoy the festivities at the Corp location afterward.  Our Corp members, along with the Boy Scout Troop 995, will be serving our participants with a chili dinner. It includes Ron's award winning chili, crackers and beverages. And for dessert, the Tulsa Center of Hope kitchen is baking brownies! There will be numerous door prizes and lots of fellowship to start off "the season of giving". Please join us or feel free to stand along the route and show your support! The event will benefit the more than 4,200 families that have already applied for assistance in the Tulsa Area.

P.S. Can't make it? Text JOY to 85944 to make a $10 donation via your mobile phone bill!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Go to the mall... to help others!

Christmas is less than two months away, does that seem crazy to anyone else? With Christmas comes the joy of shopping and if you’re like me that means headed to the mall for a few hours. While you are at the mall why not consider volunteering for the Angel Tree? It’s a great way to get in the holiday spirit and a great excuse to spend a little extra time at the mall. Plus, helping people find the perfect angel is actually really fun!

For more information about volunteering at the Angel Tree contact Jenny McElyea, Volunteer Coordinator at 918-587-7801, or click here


Volunteers are needed from November 17-December 12 during mall hours shift times are: 10am-2pm, 2pm-6pm, 6pm-10pm (M-S) 12pm-3pm, 3pm-6pm (Sunday). 

You can choose Woodland Hills or Promenade Mall.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Salvation Army Fights Against Human Trafficking

I recently watched the much acclaimed "Half the Sky" documentary and was particularly moved by the Somaly Mam segment, wherein a former sex worker, Somaly Mam, now has a internationally known program that rescues underage sex workers from horrible, abusive situations in her native Cambodia, and across Southeast Asia. 

Many of her girls (literally, girls from ages 3 and up) have been tricked into sex work by the promise of a job in the big city or were straight-up sold into prostitution by their desperate, impoverished families.

Being sold or tricked into unpaid, unwanted sex work is called sex trafficking and it is a serious problem, not just in developing countries like Cambodia and Thailand, but also, here in the United States. 

What I didn't know, and was really excited to find out, was that trafficking was already on the radar of the Salvation Army. As we seek to 'Do the Most Good" fighting trafficking is a clear calling for us as an organization. We routinely feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless and minister to widows and orphans, but what about "freeing the captives"? Human trafficking has been called "modern slavery"; and the numbers support it. An estimated 2 million women and children are sold into sexual slavery around the world, every year. And even in the US, it is estimated that 14,000 to 17,000 victims are trafficked annually.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

United Way, helping with more than $$$

We’re right in the middle of the Tulsa Area United Way campaign, which helps more than 60 non-profit organizations throughout Tulsa. Our community is fortunate that there are so many groups trying to help as many people as possible. Recently, I got to work with five of these organizations to see how we can focus on reaching the needs of Tulsa’s youth.

The United Way provided cohort training from the Center for What Works.  The cohort groups included the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa, Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, Youth at Heart, Campfire USA Green Country Council, Operation Aware and the Indian Nations Council Boy Scouts of America. Leaders from all of these groups met once a month for nine months to discuss how we go from “provider” to “performance.” Each group picked a program provided locally to support youth and then we learned steps we could take to improve upon the work we are doing. 

The Boys & Girls Clubs are working on their Healthy Habits program, which provides education and hands on activities to ensure kids (and their families) lead healthier lives.  Teenagers from one of our Clubs were required to go on a hike/walk at LaFortune Park once a week.  Some of the teens would complain and skip the activity.  Staff then decided to give incentives, such as refreshments and treats. By the end of summer, everyone showed up for the walk and the teens were then good role models for the younger kids.

Another bonus of the training was getting to know leaders from these other organizations.  We all have something in common: character building our youth.  Both Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts even have meetings at our Clubs.  Operation Aware held a Fun & Fit event this summer in which the Clubs participated.  Even though the training officially ended in September, the non-profits are still meeting once a month to help each other on our progress and continue building our relationships.

Although all of Tulsa’s non-profits work to improve the lives of our citizens, we can’t do it alone. That’s why it’s important to support the United Way campaign, because the Tulsa Area United Way provides help to so many important organizations in our community, whether it be training or monetary-- they help ensure we are doing our BEST work!


Friday, October 19, 2012

The Baskets Have Landed!

Four thousand wooden baskets make a fairly impressive sight, even when empty. Fortunately, with the generosity of the Tulsa Area community, they won't stay that way for long!

These food baskets will be distributed to Angel Tree families when they come to pick up the Christmas gifts for their children in late December. Families will receive assorted canned goods, bread, milk, eggs and fresh fruit. Enough to make their holiday a little brighter and fix a nice holiday meal.

4000+ baskets are waiting for you to fill them!
But in order to give a food basket to every Angel Tree family, we need your help. Canned food drives as well as monetary donations to buy the fresh items, will help us fill the baskets! More than 4,000 needy families are already registered with the Angel Tree program and are counting on us, us all, to help make their Christmas brighter.

If you or your group-- business, church, civic group, Scout Troop, book club, etc.-- would like to get more information on how you can help fill the baskets, contact:
Samantha Messick 
via Email
Also, spread the good word! Share this blog post with your social network and follow us on Facebook or Twitter, to stay connected with the Salvation Army this holiday season! Lots of exciting activities, volunteer opportunities and announcements coming your way!


Friday, October 12, 2012

So long, for now

Just as we started to rev up for our incredibly busy Christmas season, I got some bad news. I’ve been diagnosed with restrictive lung disease. It’s not life threatening or painful, but it saps my energy and we all know a lot of energy is needed to celebrate a Salvation Army Christmas. I am taking a three-month medical leave to get some rest and also to work a rehabilitative therapy program to build up my stamina. I hope to be back on the job as your blogger and media contact on January 7. In the mean time, I’ll be writing about my experiences on my personal blog, so we won’t get too out of touch. I'm trying to keep my sense of humor about this as you can tell from the photo at left. I was bored with waiting for a test on my heart and decided to "model" my hospital gown. I don't think the Auxiliary ladies are going to ask me to model it at their spectacular Christmas luncheon, do you?

Please feel free to leave comments on my personal blog or email me. I think writing blog posts is just like exercise – I have to do it most of the week or I get out of shape. My blogging boss Lindsay and teammates Carrie, Vicki and Jenny will keep you up to date with all the news of the holiday season on this site. I will miss seeing some friends whom I only see at Christmas, but you are in good hands with the rest of the team at The Salvation Army. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and see you in 2013!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet Justus Brown

You know those kids who everyone complains about, who no one understands and no one seems to know how to handle? Eleven-year-old Justus Brown was one of those kids. He was so angry that he threw furniture, started fights and even spit on people – and that was just at school. When you meet Justus today, you would never guess that he was one of those kids. He most likely owes it to his grandmother, Marilynn Brown, and the caring staff at the Broken Arrow Boys and Girls Club, particularly Program Director Jonathan Mullins. 

We were in the recreation room at the BA Boys & Girls Club where Justus is a member. Marilynn told me a little about Justus’ difficult life and mentioned that he fought and hit her for several months after she began taking care of him.  Marilynn said he was very disruptive in school and could not concentrate. The school suggested putting him in Shadow Mountain when he was in the third grade. Shadow Mountain is a psychiatric hospital for troubled kids.  No one knew what to do with him because he was so aggressive.  Justus lived there for 14 months. 

Marilynn said Justus is very aggressive in everything he does.  Upon hearing this comment, Justus looked up from the Ms. PacMan game which he was trying to win and shouted out “I’m not aggressive, I’m just competitive." We all had a good laugh.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rotary Club visits Area Command

Tradition has it that every Salvation Army Tulsa Area Commander joins the Downtown Rotary Club when he makes the move to Tulsa. But last week a new tradition was put into place. Area Commander Major Jim Taylor welcomed his fellow Rotarians to Area Command during a Business Visitation, where they enjoyed barbecued ribs, a speech, video and tour of the Tulsa Area Command. I got to enjoy the event also, as I was seated at a table with the charming Tom Monahan, pictured left.  He started  volunteering for the Army 31 years ago and had some stories to tell.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The kettle that saved Christmas

“Carrie, we have a $10,000 check for your Matching Kettle Campaign." This one-line email made a huge difference in The Salvation Army’s Kettle campaign last year. Tulsa Gold & Silver answered our plea in our Red Kettle Campaign to match kettle donations for one Saturday last December.

It was raining on that Saturday, which usually leads to lower donations. But that did not happen. People responded to the match, we even had a check for $5,000 in one of the kettles with a note that said “I’m so glad this donation will be doubled.”

We’re now looking for more generous companies to follow Tulsa Gold & Silver’s lead. A Matching Sponsor gets its company name on every red kettle in the Tulsa area on a chosen Saturday.  A banner with the company logo will also hang in our Joy Center throughout the holiday season. Thousands of people will see it when they come to our Joy Center during November and December.

Friday, September 28, 2012

We will miss you Billie!

One of the perks of working for a great organization like The Salvation Army, is getting to know some great community leaders, via our Advisory Board.  They don’t list “getting to know the board” on our benefits sheet, but they probably should.  Our board is amazing and it has been led for the last two years by Billie Barnett. 

Billie is not a leader in title only.  She leads by example and works hard.  Personally, I attend or lead 3 board committee meetings monthly and although Billie doesn’t have to be at all of them, she almost always attends.  And she doesn’t just come to my meetings, she has equal enthusiasm for every meeting.  She always knows what is going on.  She checks in with me a lot and always encourages me to do my best and aim higher and higher. She has sat by me in donor meetings as we request gifts that are larger than 6 figures--she is fearless when asking others to financially support our work (and I think she could get us a donation to buy ice for Eskimos if we told her we needed it).

Various photos of Billie representing the Army
and one of she and I at her last meeting as Chair.

Billie is handing over the reins to our Advisory Board on Oct. 1.  She is moving on to some other exciting community roles with United Way and other local organizations.  She has promised me that she isn’t leaving for good and she will still serve on our board, but I will miss her leadership and that splash of orange she always adds to our meetings (GO POKES!). 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

'Tis the season!

Tis the season!   

For many people the holiday season is still far, far away. But here at the Salvation Army we have been gearing up for Christmas since July! If you are like us and already have holidays on the brain, we are now accepting volunteers!

Every year thousands come out and help us with a variety of volunteer opportunities, such as: Bell-ringing, Angel Tree Booths, Gift Sorting, Meal Serving, Christmas Distribution, Food Sorting, Food Packing and more. 

We hope you will be one of them!

To register for any of these great opportunities click here!

New this year!!

I am so excited to announce our new Winter Wonderland Experience. Every year hundreds of volunteers come through our doors during the Christmas season, but most only participate in one holiday opportunity and never get to see all of the efforts taking place to make Christmas wonderful for thousands of local families.

The Winter Wonderland Experience is a unique volunteer experience; you are able to choose how much time you'd like to give and we give you the opportunity to see what goes into creating Christmas joy for thousands in need.

Do you have a heart to serve a holiday meal, but would like to do more? Sign-up for our Snow Flake experience.

Are you really excited about the season? Already started singing "Silent Night"? Then we have the perfect opportunity for you! Be our Snow Angel and kick off the holidays right with a wide range of holiday volunteer opportunities!

Check out the other wintery opportunities HERE to decide which best fits your holiday schedule. 

Each Winter Wonderland volunteer will receive a limited edition t-shirt to wear while volunteering-- showing the world how special you are to us! You will also be invited to a VIP reception (in January) where you will be honored for your dedication to making The Salvation Army Christmas programs a success!

Spaces are very limited, so I hope to hear from you soon!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Meet Nate Waters, United Way star

One of my favorite things about fall is the United Way Annual Campaign.  For three years I've gotten to make speeches about The Salvation Army to organizations which contribute to the campaign.Tuesday I spoke at the OSU Center for Health Sciences and I had the added pleasure of running into an old friend, Nate Waters. Nate is in the United Way's campaign film and I had been looking forward to teasing him about being a movie star. A few years ago, I met Nate in the gym where we both work out at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. Nate is partially paralyzed and I have a disability with chronic back pain. I usually see Nate when he has finished his work out and I'm just getting started. So he zips around the gym in his wheelchair wheeling and dealing on his cell phone while I'm grunting and groaning on the weight machines. The photo at left is of Nate, me and OSU-Tulsa President Howard Barnett. The photo at right is of the Center for Health Sciences' United Way campaign committee members, from left, R.D. Bell, Amanda Bern and Bria Taylor. 

Nate also spoke Tuesday and  I was interested in hearing more of his story. One of the things that amazes me about Nate is that he is now helping the organizations that helped him as a youth. As a teenager, Nate and his mom stayed in the Center of Hope for a short time when they moved from Chicago to Tulsa and became homeless. Nate was paralyzed after an altercation with his mother's boyfriend when he was 19.