By: Sharah Denton
When you think of the Salvation Army, many times you think of the holiday season with bell ringers throughout the community. But what many in Valdosta, Lowndes County may not realize is that the local Salvation Army is much more than volunteers ringing bells outside during the holiday season. The Salvation Army which is led by husband and wife duo, Lt. Chris and Lt. Tasha Thomas, is a church and a place where volunteers can make a difference in the lives of children.
The Thomas’s attribute their love for working for the Salvation Army due to its ministry. Initially Lt. Chris Thomas worked for the organization through its I.T. department and through that time, his wife Tasha saw her calling and together, they knew it was what they were called to do. Although they do not know how long they will be in Valdosta, they do both know that they were called to serve and that for now, Valdosta is where they continue ministering.
In June of next year, the Thomas’s will have been at the Valdosta location for a full year. Through their passion for the mission of the organization and its services, both acknowledge that being a part of the Salvation Army is a true ministry to their calling in serving others. For children, the organization has weekly church services and character building opportunities. Next year the goal is to partner with Public Health and with the American Red Cross to provide special needs emergency shelter.
Both husband and wife work cohesively along with a Case Manager to provide services for clients in the 12 bed shelter. Although the organization provides character building volunteer opportunities, those opportunities will kick off again on Thursday, January 11th . Currently, the Salvation Army is registering families for the annual Christmas Empty Stocking Fund. Last year, that initiative raised around $32,000 for local children. Last year, the Salvation Army was able to provide 1,200 children through that community supported initiative.
The Salvation Army welcomes community support including in-kind gifts such as men’s grooming supplies and toiletries are always welcomed. Volunteers are always encouraged particularly for the character building classes including in the Arts, budgeting and basic handiwork are just some of the opportunities volunteers can assist with. Although volunteers are required to fill out a safe from harm volunteer packet, they can sign up or donate monetary gifts through the organizations website at www.salvationarmygeorgia.org. The Salvation Army is also looking for volunteers during this Christmas season. Opportunities include bell ringers, Toy shop helpers and Christmas distribution assistants, contact 229.242.6440.