The Salvation Army has been helping those in need since the 1800s and they provide everything from free meals to free housing and anything else in order to help get people back on track to a better life.
At around 11:30 a.m. every day, the St. Cloud Salvation Army Shelter serves a hot meal to community members lined up outside their doors as part of their mission.
“The people that come through are very appreciative; they’re in need of something,” St. Cloud Salvation Army Shelter food coordinator Fred Fix said. “They not only are here to get meals but [they] try to get back on their feet, get established back in the community, to fill their spiritual needs, etcetera.”
Each day, the shelter works their fingers to the bone putting together meals for those who may not be able to afford it. However, not only do they serve lunch, but they also make a continental breakfast and then dinner, and it’s something the volunteers love helping with.
“They’re fed very well,” volunteer cook David Donley said. “I’ve done it for many years and it just satisfies my heart to help the people who need the help, just to see them come through the line and have a nice warm meal just warms the heart.”
At the shelter, the Salvation Army provides services to people who are in need of different essentials they otherwise couldn’t afford. Although the food may be the Salvation Army’s main service goal, it is not the only service need that they provide to homeless people.
“Whether it giving them a sleeping bag because they don’t have a place to sleep for the night or providing a bus pass,” special events and kettle coordinator Laura Douvier said. “It’s really rewarding for me just to see the results and how what I do helps them.”
Given that the Salvation Army willfully provides meals every day along with a free food pantry and even shelter for some, that doesn’t mean that these homeless people are taking advantage of their resources.
“99 percent of them are very thankful, and they appreciate it and we get a lot of thanks from them and you can see it in their face,” Fix said.
Despite this, the Salvation Army is not just there for those in need to lean on and use as a place to get free food and housing, they do understand that the Salvation Army is just a stepping stone to a better life for the homeless.
“The Salvation Army also works on getting these people back on their feet, we’re not just there as a helping hand,” Fix said. “Part of the deal is that you come here and work toward getting back on your feet, finding a job, getting re-established, because there’s all kinds of different circumstances that they’re here in the first place.”
Every year when November hits, it is considered the busiest time of year for them as they try to prepare themselves for the increase in people flow coming through their shelters. On Thanksgiving this year, the St. Cloud Shelter, along with many other homeless shelters are providing a complimentary meal for people who may not be able to afford to set up a Thanksgiving meal to their families.
“The Thanksgiving meal is for anyone in the community that isn’t able to provide that specific meal for their families or if they just want to come have a meal at Salvation Army. It’s open to the community,” Douvier said.
They will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the shelter, including turkey that will be donated by Coborn’s grocery stores.
“I expect a very busy week coming up. Both in the food pantry for people stocking up that want to prepare meals at home for their people and also I’m working with Bruce, the head chef on getting turkeys in for the big Thanksgiving dinner here,” Fix said.
Along with their Thanksgiving celebration, the Salvation Army held their annual kettle kickoff event on Nov. 15, which was the start of their bell-ringing that goes on in front of various stores. The money that is raised from the bell ringers throughout the holiday season goes towards the various services, programs and food that the shelters provide.
“It’s just nice to see so many people that have a heart that want to do things like this,” Donley said.