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I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.
With those words in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus defined the work of His faithful servants and, startling to His hearers, He equated Himself with the neediest of humanity. Thanks to God’s provision through the generosity of our donors, The Salvation Army in 2013 was able to answer the Lord’s call to serve Him by meeting human needs of every kind.
Some 30 million men, women, and children throughout America experienced in a tangible, vital way our message that no matter who you are, no matter what you are struggling with, The Salvation Army is here for you. We welcome you with open doors, open hearts, and open arms.
In 2013, the broad reach of The Salvation Army embraced human needs in many notable areas.
Through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, people from all walks of life joined with us to provide Christmas gifts for about 1 million disadvantaged children across the United States.
While the Angel Tree program remains one of our most visible outreaches, helping families in need is a mission that, for us, knows no season. In 2013, we launched Pathway of Hope, an initiative that provides long-term, one-on-one support for struggling families who want to start thriving. Each family meets with a Salvation Army social worker once a week to formulate a plan, set goals, and track their progress.
On the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s pledge to wage “unconditional war on poverty in America,” The Salvation Army and seven other humanitarian organizations announced a new collaboration to pursue the fight in our generation. Supporting one another’s poverty-reduction initiatives will add much-needed force to the battle. The need is acute.
While working to break the cycle of poverty, The Salvation Army intervenes every day to meet the most immediate needs – helping pay utilities, sheltering families who have lost their homes, feeding the hungry. Each year, we provide more than 60 million meals to anyone in need through our thousands of soup sit-down meal programs, food pantries, mobile meal units, and community gardens.
There was cause for worry as the 2013 holiday season began. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas was the shortest in 11 years – five days shorter than in 2012. The retail outlook was gloomy, and indeed, shopper traffic declined 19% from the year before.
Yet for The Salvation Army, the season proved brilliant.
To make the most of the abbreviated season, we focused much of our media effort on Giving Tuesday. Begun the year before, Giving Tuesday is a national movement to encourage charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. Throughout the second annual Giving Tuesday, December 3, representatives of The Salvation Army appeared on national news and entertainment programs. Supporters were encouraged to raise awareness by posting on Twitter a photo of themselves giving back – an “unselfie.”
Donations in November and December rose 4.1% over the same period the previous year, to a total of more than $526 million. Truly, Americans met us with open arms and open hearts. And we are grateful.
When natural disasters occur in America and abroad, The Salvation Army provides critical relief. Since our last annual report, the United States, thankfully, has been spared natural catastrophes on the scale we had experienced in several recent years. The Philippines, however, were not. In November, Typhoon Haiyan wreaked unprecedented destruction. Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services teams rushed to the scene of the devastation – the worst in the Philippines’ history – providing food, shelter, water, and emotional and spiritual care for the survivors. In the ongoing aftermath, the 75 Salvation Army offices in the Philippines have continued to provide essential support, aided by donors from the United States and around the world.
The Salvation Army opens our arms to all. In 2013, we raised our voice against rumors and misconceptions and engaged in our most direct dialogue yet with detractors regarding our policy and practice of nondiscrimination. For our entire history, we have served people according to their need and our capacity to help, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We welcome volunteers and staff on the same basis.
The 10th chapter of Acts tells us that God opens His arms to all people, without favoritism. As His servants, we can do no less.