COVINGTON -- An organization that can always be counted on for help in time of need, the Salvation Army, is offering residents an easy and secure way to help Oklahoma storm victims.
The Covington Salvation Army Service Center at 5193 Washington St. has not yet been mobilized to assist with Oklahoma victims, but according to Director Jody Carver, it stands ready to do so and expects to be called up soon as relief for those who are already on site.
"In Georgia, we have 24 mobile feeding units (canteens) that can serve approximately 1,500 meals per day. We have a canteen here in Covington and a team prepared to leave at a moment's notice," Carver said. " ... I have received information that five Salvation Army officers have been deployed from the Georgia Division as emotional and spiritual care officers to help with the great need in Oklahoma."
Though emotionally stressful and tiring, no one who is offering help is complaining.
"The devastation is far reaching both in human life, property and livestock loss," said Maj. Steve Morris, divisional commander for the Arkansas-Oklahoma Division. "The Salvation Army is honored to serve and provide sustenance to first responders involved in search and rescue, coordination efforts and more. And, of course, all survivors will be provided with spiritual and emotional care."
Presently donors are being encouraged to contribute cash, although in-kind donations may be needed at a later date.
"In-kind donations require sorting, boxing, palletizing, storage and delivery to the disaster location," she pointed out. "All of these activities can be costly and time-consuming and, therefor, may delay service delivery. Cash donations allow the Salvation Army to purchase product to quickly and efficiently meet the most urgent needs of the disaster victims."
Further, she said, when possible, the purchases are made near the disaster site to stimulate the local economy and ensure quicker delivery.
"However, the Salvation Army depends upon your donation of used clothing and other items to support local programming," she added. "Please consider donating your used clothing to our local Salvation Army Family Store on Washington Street in Covington."
For those who would like to volunteer to help through the Salvation Army, they should register at www.diaster.salvaationarmyusa.org.
"Bear in mind that the Salvation Army deploys trained disaster workers already associated with the Salvation Army first. A standard deployment is two weeks, including 12 working days and two travel days," Carver said. "If you have not been trained or cannot commit to the time needed, it is less likely the Salvation Army will deploy you to the disaster site."
She did say that those who cannot serve in the field may find opportunities to volunteer at the local Service Center.
To make a financial donation, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY; go to www.salvationarmyusa.org; text the word "STORM" to 80888 to make a $10 donation through your mobile phone and to confirm your gift respond with the word "yes;" or mail checks made payable to the Salvation Army to the Salvation Army - Disaster Relief, P.O. Box 2536, Oklahoma City, OK 72102 marked "May 2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes."
Carver said donations make a real difference and gave the following table that shows how a little money can go a long way:
-- A $10 donation feeds a disaster survivor for one day.
-- A $30 donation provides one food box, containing staple foods for a family of four, or one household cleanup kit, containing brooms, mops, buckets and other cleaning supplies.
-- A $100 donation can serve snacks and drinks for 125 survivors and emergency personnel at the scene of a disaster.
-- A $250 donation can provide one hot meal to 100 people or keep a hydration station operational for 24 hours.
-- A $500 donation keeps a Salvation Army canteen fully operational for one day.