Salvation Army in crisis

The local Salvation Army is facing a shortage of donations in its food bank and a budget crisis, and is asking the community to lend a hand in its hour of need.
“Fort Frances still needs some of the help we provide and we are short on resources,” Capt. Angel Sandoval warned.
“We don’t want to turn people away. That’s what we are here for—to help people. But without money, how can you help people?” asked Capt. Marlene Sandoval.
The Sandovals, pastors at the Fort Frances Salvation Army, said because of a lack of funding from the government, and a decrease in community donations, the church is facing a severe budget shortfall this year.
As a result, it has had to cut back on some services.
“We had a sign that said, ‘If we’re closed, go to the OPP,’” noted Capt. Marlene, adding the OPP used to keep motel vouchers for people who needed a place to spend the night.
If someone was in dire need, they could go to the OPP, ask for a voucher, and the room would be billed to the Salvation Army, she explained.
But the Sandovals recently have had to ask the OPP to return the vouchers until their financial situation has stabilized. “There just isn’t the funds anymore,” Capt.. Angel said.
The pastors showed empty shelves in the pantry, where they store food that usually is given to families in need. “The need in Fort Frances is still there,” Capt. Angel stressed.
“We need to make the community aware we are here to help, but without their help, it is impossible for us to do our best for the community,” echoed Capt. Marlene.
To add insult to injury, the Thrift Store in the basement of the citadel on Victoria Avenue was vandalized over the weekend, with two windows broken. The Sandovals said they didn’t believe anything was stolen.
“But there’s the damages, the expenses, the inconvenience. It makes it difficult for us to concentrate on the ministry,” Capt. Marlene said with frustration in her voice.
“We work very, very hard because we want to help the community.”
The Sandovals also noted that while they are very grateful for clothing donations from the community, many people have been bringing items that are too old and damaged to be re-used.
The Sandovals said up to 25 percent of donated clothing has to be shipped to Toronto for recycling because it is unfit to be resold.
“Sometimes people bring garbage” in order to avoid fees at the dump, Capt. Angel said, adding that the cost of dumping the garbage then falls on the Salvation Army.
He also said recent news about a large donation to the charity from an American woman has been misleading and confusing for people in Canada.
Joan Kroc, widow of Ray Kroc, who built the McDonald’s empire, died last October, leaving $1.5 billion (U.S.) to the Salvation Army.
Capt. Angel said some people assume Salvation Army ministries in Canada also will benefit from that donation, but this is not the case. This donation only would be used in the U.S.
“We have nothing to do with that,” he noted.
This Friday, the church is kicking off its annual “Partners in Mission” appeal to raise funds for missions overseas.
“This year we’re doing it in a different way,” Capt. Angel noted. “We will use half the money we collect here in town and half to help those overseas.
The “Partners in Mission” appeal is taken up by Salvation Army ministries all across Canada and Bermuda to pay for medicine, schooling, and food for people in developing countries.
Capt. Angel said their goal this year is to raise $4,000 and keep $2,000 to restock the local food bank.
A turkey dinner fundraiser also will be held in the basement of St. Mary’s Church here this Friday (April 2) at 5:30 p.m., with guest speakers Maj. James and Mavis Reid, former directors of intercultural ministries in Canada and Bermuda who spent 42 years with the Salvation Army before retiring.
Tickets for the dinner cost $12 for adults and $5 for children, and should be ordered in advance by calling 274-3871.
“If there is a need in Fort Frances, the Salvation Army response is ‘Heart to God, hand to man,’” Capt. Angel said.