Did you know that the popular Beetles song “Strawberry Fields Forever” refers to an orphanage for girls run by the Salvation Army? Or, that the Red Kettle Christmas campaign began in 1891 when a Salvation Army captain in San Francisco set up a crab pot and began collecting money for the poor at Christmas? I bet you didn’t know the Salvation Army is frequently credited with popularizing donuts in the United States. Salvation Army “donut girls” cooked donuts in battle helmets and served them to troops on the front line during World War I. The Salvation Army has a secret salute. When members meet, they raise their right hand above the shoulder with the index finger pointing upward. According to Wikipedia, the salute signifies recognition of a fellow citizen of heaven and a pledge to do everything possible to get others to heaven. It also signifies that the Salvationist wishes to give glory to God and not themselves. It should come as no surprise the Salvation Army has organized itself like a military outfit. In fact, the organization has adopted “Onward Christian Soldiers” as its favored processional. These were some interesting facts I learned Sunday when the Salvation Army celebrated its 70th anniversary of serving the needs of folks in Horry County. While it may be true that we learn something new everyday, the good work done by the Salvation Army was not news to me. For many years I have admired the work of the organization and have spent more than a few hours ringing the red kettle bell during Christmas. The Salvation Army has lived up to its name over the years. It has literally provided salvation to untold numbers of people, both spiritually and physically. Locally, the Salvation Army has helped people pay utility bills, feed their families and recover from disasters. Nationwide, it sponsors recovery services for alcoholics and drug addicts. “There are a lot of proud families in Horry County,” said Jerry Williams, director of community relations for the Horry County unit. “By the time they get to our doors asking for help their dignity has already been shed. What we try to do is restore that. We don’t look down on them. In fact, we don’t call them clients. We call them neighbors. Neighbors help neighbors, and that’s what we try to do.” For seven decades, the local Salvation Army has been doing just that...helping neighbors just as Jesus directs us to do in the Bible. There are many relief organizations in the United States, The Red Cross, City of Hope, Americares and Catholic Relief Services to name a few. All merit your support. Sunday’s celebration served as reminder that one of the oldest charitable relief organizations in the world, the Salvation Army, deserves your support, too. Williams put it this way: “The Salvation Army is a beacon of hope in a very dark world. We are the lighthouse.” Well said.

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Steve Robertson is owner and publisher of the Waccamaw Publishers family of community newspapers

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