Salvation Army of Orange County keeps focus on local residents’ human needs

Published 12:22 am Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Salvation Army of Orange County is a faith-based nonprofit serving the community with charitable programming, targeting poverty, hunger and more.

The mission is expressed by Orange Corps Captain and Pastor Jan Zuniga.

“We were founded in 1865 in England by a reformed Methodist pastor by the name of William Booth,” she said. “He began developing a ministry where he had the three “S’s”, soups, soap and salvation. He found out that, to be able to share the gospel in a way that would touch their hearts, he needed to meet their physical needs first, their human needs.”

The Salvation Army Orange Corps hosts youth at the Boys & Girls club year-round and during the summer.

During the winter season they host an annual Thanksgiving food drive. And their Christmas efforts include the Angel Tree program, Red Kettle campaign and the senior food basket program.

Some programs have eligibility guidelines, and others, like the annual Thanksgiving food giveaway, are open to the community.

This year, on Nov. 19, through a partnership with Southeast Texas Food Bank, they were able to distribute 500 pre-packaged Thanksgiving food boxes.

The senior food basket program is for Orange County seniors aged 60 and over.

The Angel Tree is for children ages 12 and under at the time of the application, and money raised through the red kettle campaign supports seasonal and year-round programming.

Volunteers who support Salvation Army programming are known nationally as the “army behind the Army.”

Monetary donations and volunteer hours donated by the Orange County “army behind the Army” are integral to the Corps’ operating model.

“Even though we’re a worldwide organization, what we do is based upon our donor support here locally,” Zuniga said.

“Limited support means our hands are tied and it’s harder to do some of the bigger things that people see us do.”

She also expressed the importance of the red kettle campaign. Over a century old, this seasonal Salvation Army fundraiser is staffed primarily by community volunteers who ring their iconic red bells in front of retailers.

“All of the money that’s raised in those local red kettles here, stays here in Orange County,” Zuniga said. “Our goal is to raise at least $65,000 over a span of 11 locations. We run those kettles based off of community volunteers, but to be out there every day we also provide seasonal employment to individuals [primarily seniors] within the community to help us ring those bells.”

On Nov, 19, 30 volunteers were able to meet the needs of 1,600 people in Orange County. Local churches, nonprofits and businesses partner with the Salvation Army to ensure each Angel Tree applicant has at least one new toy under the tree on Christmas morning.

According to Zuniga, these factors, among others, demonstrate the importance of community partnerships in assisting the mission of meeting the human needs of the Orange County.

“It is our mission to preach the gospel and meet human needs without discrimination, and the Salvation Army can’t do it if it wasn’t for the community,” she said. “We’re thankful to provide the way for others in our community who want to care and love a way to do it.”

Although the deadline for Angel Tree applications has passed, the Orange Corps food pantry is open weekly, Monday-Thursday 1 -3 p.m.

The Salvation Army is located on 1950 MLK Drive in Orange.

For information regarding financial assistance and spiritual care programs, call 409-291-8400 or email texinfo@uss.salvationarmy.org.

To support the Salvation Army Orange Corps’ seasonal and year-round programming, the community may donate directly, adopt an Angel from the Angel Tree or participate in the red kettle campaign virtually or in person.

— Written by Shari Hardin