Salvation Army Greenwich Service Unit Responds to COVID-19

Greenwich Food Boxes (contributed photo)

GREENWICH, CT – During the holidays, you may have seen The Salvation Army Greenwich Service Unit ringing bells on the avenue during the Red Kettle Campaign. Year-round, the team works to raise funds, identify gaps in local services, and develop strategies to support those in need in their community.

Their current task is responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Salvation Army emergency food boxes have gone a long way to aid in addressing the growing need for food resources in Greenwich. To date, 110 food boxes containing 30-35 meals each have been provided. “It has been my pleasure to oversee the activities of The Salvation Army Greenwich Service Unit for many years,” said Kathy Orfitelli, Service Extension Director for The Salvation Army Southern New England Division. “Volunteers selected to serve on this board take their roles as representatives of The Salvation Army very seriously. They are an exemplary team that works diligently throughout the year.”

The Greenwich Service Unit helps hundreds of Greenwich residents with a wide variety of needs. Referrals primarily come in from the Greenwich Department of Human Services. Alison Brush works with the case managers to identify cases in which The Salvation Army is needed the most. “The areas that are the most critical are assistance with rent and utilities,” said Brush. “We also purchase a large number of beds for clients who either do not have one at all or have had bed bug infestations.”

The service unit also purchases hundreds of gift cards every year for back-to-school shoes, food during the holidays and supports camperships at The Salvation Army’s Camp CONNRI, and day camps in Greenwich. “Since this crisis started, we have had many inquiries regarding rent assistance and at the moment, we are preparing paperwork in anticipation of what steps should be made going forward,” Brush said. “But by far the most immediate need had been food.” The Salvation Army Greenwich Service Unit in partnership with Greenwich Social Services refers clients to the local food bank, Neighbor to Neighbor, and typically a few hundred households participate. “Right now, we have referred so many new clients that the number is up well over 500,” Brush added. “The Salvation Army has provided many food boxes and that is helping tremendously.”

Neighbor to Neighbor, a nonprofit organization serving residents in need throughout the greater Greenwich area, improves lives by providing for the exchange of food, clothing and basic living essentials in an atmosphere of kindness and respect. “We are delivering The Salvation Army food boxes along with our regular food delivery, to some families of 4 or more,” said Duncan Lawson, Operations Manager for Neighbor to Neighbor. We are up on the number of people we normally serve so your boxes are a superb addition to helping with the hunger here in Greenwich.” Typically, 315 families are served weekly. Now, with the increased need due to COVID-19, approximately 600 are served every week. Of the 600, nearly 500 are delivered. These disaster food boxes contain shelf-stable food like pasta, canned vegetables, and cereal that can be used to make 30-35 meals for a household.

“The Greenwich Chapter of the Salvation Army appreciates any donations to help those in need during this crisis,” said Margaret Conboy, Chairman of The Salvation Army Greenwich Service Unit. “At this time, monetary donations as well as non-perishable food and other essential items are greatly needed. We hold an annual food drive in the summer that benefits Neighbor to Neighbor to help families when children are home from school and do not receive the meals in school. Now that children have been home from school since March and may not be returning to school at least until the middle of May or longer, it is so important now to help the families and the children with food and other basic necessities. Anyone with questions may call me at 203-862-2412.”

The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) department is coordinating with state and local leads to determine gap feeding needs for vulnerable populations across the state. With the growing need, EDS is continually working to secure the food from multiple sources and assemble and then distribute hundreds of these food boxes to hard hit areas each week.

The Salvation Army has introduced an Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline for anyone in the US to call during the pandemic. Its hours of operation are 9:00 am to 9:00 pm EDT. By calling 844 458-HOPE (4673) trained Salvation Army Officers and employees are available to talk, advise, and above all pray for individuals, families and situations. Anyone who is feeling lonely, isolated, or fearful of the coronavirus outbreak can call the hotline number to reach a friendly and reassuring voice.

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