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When someone mentions the Salvation Army, you might think of the organization's popular thrift stores or the iconic Santas ringing bells to collect donations during the holiday season. Regardless of what comes to mind, the Salvation Army is inarguably a household name, founded in 1865 by Methodist minister William Booth. Now, the organization serves in over 100 countries, according to the Salvation Army website, and assists almost 30 million Americans every year. With that in mind, the organization is asking for your help in one particular area. Read on to find out what the Salvation Army is urging shoppers to do as soon as possible.
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The Salvation Army is ceasing operations at certain North American locations.
In June, the Salvation Army announced that it would be closing some of its locations in North America. A Salvation Army thrift store in Duluth, Minnesota is set to close by the end of July, the organization's website states. Other charitable services will continue to be offered, Captain Teri Ellison told Fox 21 News, but she confirmed that the retail store would shut its doors after 40 years due to financial loss and lack of staff. And back in June, a Salvation Army in Thompson, a city in Manitoba, Canada, ceased all operations, as reported by the Thompson Citizen. The closure impacted the organization's entire presence in the area, the outlet confirmed, including the thrift store and the food bank.
However, the many Salvation Army locations that are still in operation have called upon shoppers to take action and donate one type of item for those in need this summer.
The organization wants to help local communities beat the heat.
Summer heat is no joke, and in Texas, temperatures can reach a blistering 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In light of this, the Salvation Army of Wichita Falls is working to do its part, offering refuge for people who need to beat the heat by operating a cooling station, KFDX/KJTL reported.
"It does matter to them, especially if they can come in and just get a drink of water," Major Joe Burton told the outlet about those who take advantage of the cooling station. "It is good for us to be able to help them and be in collaborative efforts with other people in the community as well."
In addition to its cooling station, the organization is also collecting fan donations to give to those in the community. The only requirement is that fans are new and in the box, Burton said. Once they're donated, the Salvation Army will make sure they go to someone who needs them, free of charge.
Donations are not limited to Salvation Army locations in Texas.
Fan donations were in full swing across the country this summer. According to reporting by KFOR, nearly 300 fans have been provided to families battling the heat in Oklahoma City as of July 15, and in Omaha, Nebraska, nearly 400 box fans were delivered to the Salvation Army on July 13.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, the weather forecast continues to predict 100-degree days, and the local Salvation Army collected 177 fans for distribution this year, according to reporting by 2 News Oklahoma. While this number is shy of donation levels from previous years, which typically total over 300, the organization maintains a positive outlook and assures that the fans will be provided to those in need.
"The Salvation Army is very aware that extreme heat and even extreme cold can be a disastrous situation for a lot of people, especially with temperatures reaching hundreds on a daily basis like they have recently, so we see this as a great way to collaborate with the community and help those people in need," Lieutenant Mariah DeShazo with the Tulsa organization told 2 News.
An annual Fan Drive just wrapped up, but it's not too late to donate.
Several of these donations are the result of a collaborative partnership between the Salvation Army and Westlake Ace Hardware. This is the 10th year that the two have paired up, having started a Fan Drive at one location in Hutchinson, Kansas back in 2012.
Now, the duo conducts the annual Fan Drive at 127 Westlake Ace Hardware stores across the country, and have donated over 46,000 fans. During the 2022 Fan Drive, held from June 1 to June 19, Westlake Ace Hardware raised $100,000 thanks to customers who rounded up their purchases at the register. All in all, thanks to customer donations and Westlake's contribution of 750 fans, approximately 6,300 box fans were donated to Salvation Army commands across the U.S.
While the official Fan Drive may have concluded back in June, you can still do your part and donate to your local Salvation Army. But before you head out to donate, call to confirm that your specific location is still collecting fans, as well as to learn more about donation dropoff hours. Then, do what you can to help people in need stay cool.