When a family faces a hardship, the Salvation Army may be able to offer financial assistance for helping with your basic needs. The goal is to provide short term support, while helping individuals work towards long term self-sufficiency. While the amount and type of aid will vary by town, state and Salvation Army center, some of the assistance provided to low income families includes free food, rental assistance, clothing, funds for paying utility and heating bills, and seasonal programs. Resources are always limited, and eligibility requirements need to be met.
Regardless of an individuals background, religion, or income, people can be hit with an unexpected crisis. This can be a job loss, an unexpected medical bill or car repair, abusive relationship, or some other type of social challenge. Helping to meet basic needs is a key service of the Salvation Army. They do their best to try to provide food for a meal, financial help to heat a family’s home, provide seasonal support, or offer counseling in times of crisis.
Many Salvation Army emergency programs are short term or seasonal. This can include utility bill payment assistance during the winter, back to school supplies, Easter basket distribution, job fairs, free Christmas toy and food distributions, Adopt-A-Family, and the Angel Tree program. Find help from the local Salvation Army centers listed below.
Rent and Housing Assistance. The Salvation Army is focused on preventing homelessness in communities they serve. Housing challenges are not predictable or limited to a certain type of person, and it could happen to anyone. Some causes may be unemployment or a medical emergency. They will also try to help those who are currently homeless get back on their feet.
If you are faced with an eviction, your local center may have funding available for emergency rental assistance. While funding is limited, and may not be available, if the center can help, they will. Or a case worker may have information or suggestions on who you can call in your region.
If you are trying to find a safe and affordable place to call home and to live in for years, or if you need a roof over your head for just one night, the Salvation Army offers emergency, transitional and permanent housing as well as shelter in states and counties across the country. Tens of thousands of people receive shelter and housing from the organization.
Transitional Housing is a key service, and it in effect gives people time to find a more permanent place to live. Individuals who use this housing option tend to have been recently evicted, have faced a recent domestic break-up, or are dealing with an addiction. Your local Salvation Army service office may have information on what short term transitional housing units or apartments are available in your town or city. In addition to offering a place to stay, many will offer self-sufficiency such as employment services, job training, budgeting, and more.
The Salvation Army can assist single women, seniors, families with children and those who are at risk of losing their permanent housing or who have currently become homeless or by providing for their basic needs and helping clients achieve long-term stability through case management and other services.
Food pantries, meals, and groceries. Most Salvation Army locations have on site food shelves or pantries that offer free groceries, canned goods, perishable items and grocery delivery to homebound seniors, elderly and the disabled. Since the organization doesn’t want people to go a day without a meal, many centers also offer free hot meals or soup kitchens year-round to anyone who needs it. Some of the pantries may require an appointment, and will be open limited hours.
Any type of food assistance that the Salvation Army provides will be limited, and is usually short term. Therefore case workers will also direct clients to longer term resources, such as help people apply for food stamps or SNAP. Many of their social service offices offer clients a pre-screening, or they will refer individuals to a local government agency that can assist. This is the first step toward receiving financial assistance from any state or federal government Federal Food Support Programs.
Many pantries will allow families the ability to choose, or shop for, their own groceries. The amount of non-perishable food that each household can acquire is partly determined by family size and their income/need. Canned goods can also be supplemented by additional choices of pastries, meat, breads, and produce. Locations can also offer a Personal Essentials Pantry, which is slightly different in that it can provide products for household and personal hygiene, such as diapers, laundry soap, and paper products.
Salvation Army food banks also usually partner with other local nonprofit organizations, charities and food wholesalers in order to organize other large-scale community distributions. These distributions usually occur seasonally, and increase proportionally to the needs of the local community.
Utility, heating, and cooling bill assistance is always in high demand. If you are faced with a disconnection, some limited financial assistance from the Salvation Army may be available from time to time. Sometimes a winter storm hits the same day you receive an overdue or disconnect notice from your energy provider, or an extreme heat spell will occur when your power is off. These are the types of situations in which they may be able to help. While more limited, the Salvation Army may help with paying water bills too. Much of the utility bill assistance is for people with a household member who is at risk, such as a senior, child, or disabled member of the household.
Centers can help families and individuals pay their utility bills in order to get through emergency crisis, and in-person requests and telephone inquires are received throughout the year during normal weekday hours. They will also take referrals from other charities as resources allow. In most cases, clients will receive a comprehensive assessment and other forms of support, such as budget counseling, referrals, and case management as needed, as the Salvation Army tries to take a holistic approach to reduce the likelihood of future crisis. Social services staff can also work directly with your energy provider in order to assist the household and to help people avoid a shut off.
Prescription vouchers or medical resources. It can be very stressful when someone is sick, or maybe they are faced with a medical emergency that is causing bills to pile up. Your local Salvation Army Family Services office may have funding for medical bill assistance. For example, a location may be able to help with prescription costs or insurance co-pays.
Transportation assistance may be available in an emergency. Sometimes people may have experienced an unexpected car accident or repair that prevents them from getting to a job interview or important doctor appointment. Many people have lost their job and money is too tight to pay for the tank of gasoline that is needed to get to a job interview. In a crisis, the Salvation Army may be able to provide free bus cards, tokens and gas money. This is very limited by center, and is usually an option as last resort.
These services are extensive and wide ranging. The winter months, holidays, and back to school periods may be especially difficult as needs arise. Many families are faced with higher or unexpected bills during this time, and their need for financial help increases. Many growing kids just require new boots, school supplies, gloves, hats, notebooks, coats, and more. So various Salvation Army programs operate during these times, such as Coats for Kids, Angel Tree, back to school supplies, Adopt a Family, and more. A number of holiday and seasonal program can help meet your family’s needs.
The Back to School programs can identify school aged children from lower income families in need of help. They can be provided with a free, new backpack, supplies, notebooks, and a gift card to use for new clothes. Many studies show that a child or teenager having new school clothes, items, backpack, etc. can go a long way in building confidence and boosting a child's spirit. A similar resource known as Coats for Kids can provide free winter coats and boots to children when the weather turns for the worse.
Free Christmas, Thanksgiving and Holiday Meals are provided on each holiday for low income families, seniors, and the homebound. Support is also offered for families and individuals who are hungry and have no place to go for a hot meal. In addition to offering food, most centers surround guests with love and compassion as they serve the meal. Seniors and the homebound can often have a holiday meal delivered to them, if they can’t shop or prepare one on their own.
Angel Tree Program was created primarily to help less fortunate children and seniors and to provide them with free personalized gifts and necessities. It is a volunteer driven program for those who would otherwise receive very little or nothing during the holiday season. The Salvation Army Angel Tree program provides free toys, gifts, clothing, and more. Some centers will also offer visits to nursing home residents and the homebound.
Adopt-a-Family is another holiday program that allows lower income families and their children the ability to request help. The client will create a list of that they need (such as clothing or household items) and members of the community can volunteer to purchase those items. The Salvation Army will match the needy with donors, which may include a local business or just an individual. Many children receive free gifts, toys, or school supplies from this service.
Employment Assistance and Job Training is key to long-term stability, income and sufficiency. The Salvation Army wants to help people find a job that can pay the bills or rent, and that will also utilize your skills. For help finding a new job, contact your local service unit to speak to a case manager or social worker. Employment Search/Resume Assistance can be obtained from a case manager, who can assist with job searches and resume writing.
Salvation Army Thrift Stores are open to people of all incomes and backgrounds. Buying household items, clothing, diapers, furniture, and more can be a drain on many family’s often already tight budgets and household finances. The thrift stores and clothing closets that are available in many communities will sell these items, and much more, at a reduced cost. Some locations may also offer free vouchers for single adults who are experiencing financial strain or a disaster. Individuals or families who are faced with a crisis may also qualify for free household vouchers, and these will usually be done by appointment only.
Basic health care, medical, and dental clinics. They may be offered with local colleges or volunteer doctors or dentists, and can coordinate access to health care or basic dental procedures or cleanings.
Disaster assistance is also offered. Whether man made, or a natural disaster, such as a flood, tornadoes, or hurricane, the Salvation Army provides critical services and emergency financial aid in order to make sure survivors have the support needed to rebuild their lives. Grants are offered for prescription medicine, groceries and other pressing needs. They also partner with other non-profit agencies and charities in order to facilitate long-term social services and financial help. During major disaster they also set up local hubs that provide counseling, shelter, hot meals and even a short hotel stay when all else fails.
If your state, city, or county is not listed, click here for the phone numbers and addresses of additional social service centers.
One of the main missions of the Salvation Army is to help people meet their basic needs. There are tens of thousands of households in need of emergency assistance, and many of them are seniors or have young children. The agency relies heavily on donations and volunteers as they try their best to not deny requests for help because of limited funds. If you can, additional donations are always needed, and they will help the Salvation Army reach their goal of meeting the needs of every qualified household. All contributions and gifts are tax-deductible and will directly benefit your neighbors in need.
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