, Newburyport, MA

November 5, 2013

More than coffee and doughnuts

As I See It
Robert Campbell

---- — “Frontline Ministry” is the watchword of the Salvation Army. It is put into practice each and very day in our own Newburyport as well as around the world. They don’t have to “toot their own horn” for recognition because their red kettles do that for them, announcing that a new season for giving has arrived. The kettles also serve as a reminder that they are an ever-present symbol of service through wars, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, whatever is thrown their way.

Newburyport’s Salvation Army’s yearly budget is $343,000; the Red Kettle campaign funds 26 percent or approximately $88,000. It takes much giving to provide thousands of meals, food baskets at holidays, clothing, after-school programs and overnight summer camp for children. Our local “ministry” has prevented dozens of families from being evicted or having their electricity shut off. As you can see, it isn’t platitudes or a cup of coffee and a doughnut for a momentary fix.

The Salvation Army has been “on guard” since the late 19th century providing services in over 175 languages. Their message is “Need knows no season” and the world is painfully aware that when a need arises, the Army responds with food, clothing, medicine and general comfort. If ever there were palpable evidence of service, one need only look back one year to the devastation that occurred in New Jersey, a mere four hours away from Massachusetts, when Super Storm Sandy came ashore. In a relatively short time, the Salvation Army provided 17,805 items of furniture, 19,360 blankets, 75,000 snacks, 17,693 personal care kits and over 6,000 people received long-term help or counseling from October to June. In total, 47,360 volunteer hours were served!

It was the Army in New Jersey that galvanized into action such organizations as community food banks and voluntary organizations active in disasters. People completely devastated by nature’s wrath needed more than food and clothing for the body, they needed to be prayed with, to be prayed for and to have someone listen to their travail. This is where the Salvation Army provides God-given help that local, state or federal aid does not provide.

We are privileged to have that oasis of concern in our community and they need your help so that they can go about their work for you. The Red Kettle Brigade has 15 stations in Newburyport, Amesbury and Salisbury where your kind compassion can be expressed by serving your community, your neighbor and perhaps even yourself. Pick your time and preferred location starting Monday, Nov. 25. The rest is up to you!


Robert D. Campbell, an essayist who lives in Newburyport, believes that a sense of humor is essential.