The Salvation Army’s Bennett ringing in the sheaves

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Maj. John Bennett leads The Salvation Army in El Paso County.

Those who volunteer to serve in the army teach the Bible and work to meet basic human needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Each holiday season, those servants ring the bells that call attention to The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles, and call out for donations to provide help.

Bennett took some time to talk about needs in El Paso County and how the business community can help.

How and when did you decide to become involved in The Salvation Army? How long have you been working in El Paso County?

I have working with The Salvation Army since 1989. I started as a youth worker in Washington State.

In 1993, I was sent to help with the flood assistance in St. Louis. It was there that I saw thousands of volunteers coming from all of the US and Canada — and only about 50 Salvation Army workers. I was so impressed with the work that was being done, that I told my wife Judy that we needed to become Salvation Army officers. Judy and I attended the training college in Los Angeles in 1994.

I have been working in the Front Range since 1996, and have been the county coordinator for El Paso County since July 2010.

What services does The Salvation Army provide in El Paso County?

The Salvation Army is motivated by the love of God. Our mission is to meet human needs without discrimination. We do that in the Pikes Peak region through the following programs and services:

RJ Montgomery Center — The Pikes Peak region’s only 24/7 homeless shelter for men, women and families. Each day about 180 men, women and children have a safe place to sleep, food to eat and case management to get their lives on track

Transitional Housing — This program provided housing and case management to 11 families and 14 individuals each month who are transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency.

Red Shield Community Center — A licensed, low-cost after-school program and summer day camp for children in severe need. The Center emphasizes tutoring and offers a computer lab and gym. Around 30 children receive this help in every month.

Family Services — Food, and utility assistance are provided to clients year round. Additional food and gift assistance is given at Christmas. About 200 families receive help each month.

Soup Run — A Mobile Canteen where volunteers deliver on average 150 hot meals each week night to the homeless.

Senior Meals — This program provides seniors a hot and nutritious lunch Monday through Friday for a small fee or free. It also provides a time of interaction with other seniors with bingo and other activities. About 38 meals per day — Monday through Friday.

How is the kettle campaign going this year? How does it compare so far to previous years?

Our goal for the entire kettle program this season is $600,000. As of Dec. 10, we are right around $300,000, so we’re about halfway there. We are just about even with the past. However, we are achieving greater efficiencies to reduce our costs. As always, the last few days make all the difference for us.

Are there any community challenges that are unique to Colorado Springs and El Paso County? Is the need greater or lesser here?

One of the great things about the Pikes Peak region is the level of cooperation among the different agencies. And of course the community support is fantastic. In every community there are always people in need. The Salvation Army is committed to partnering with the entire community to make sure that people receive the most basic needs of food, shelter and hope.

What can businesses do to help?

Make a donation online

Tour of the facilities

Consider becoming a high-level volunteer

Consider being a board member

Contact info is: www.tsacs.org and 884-1050