Hometown Heroes: Salvation Army provided over 1.15 million meals in 2020

  • Jocelyn Jauculan gives Jennelle Santos two packs of diapers from the Salvation Army in Hilo recently. The Hawaii Diaper Bank partnered with the Salvation Army to give out more diapers as the need has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kelsey Walling/Hawaii Tribune-Herald)

  • Rotary delivers food to the Salvation Army. (Linda Jane, Rotary Club of Kona/Special to West Hawaii Today)

  • Salvation Army Lt. Raghel Santiago garners donations Tuesday afternoon at the Kona Walmart. (Tom Linder/West Hawaii Today)

Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, West Hawaii Today is publishing a story about individuals, groups or organizations that have helped make life better for others in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division provided 1,154,200 meals in 2020, a jump of 51% over the 595,447 meals provided in 2019, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The nonprofit recently issued a recap of 2020 outreach activities throughout the pandemic and holiday season.

For the first time in 130 years, the organization started its annual holiday fundraising campaign early, setting up Red Kettles in September 2020 in order to Rescue Christmas due to the pandemic. The Salvation Army’s call to Rescue Christmas was answered with unprecedented generosity by many individuals and partners.

“We are grateful to the community and our corporate partners for recognizing the significant need and supporting our outreach efforts not only during the ongoing pandemic, but also throughout the 2020 holiday season,” said Maj. Jeff Martin, Divisional Leader of The Salvation Army Hawaiian &Pacific Islands.

The needs throughout the holiday season went beyond the traditional Angel Tree and Red Kettle programs. The Salvation Army also helped provide thousands of groceries and meals across the island.

The Salvation Army also modified its annual Thanksgiving week holiday meals throughout Hawaii due to the pandemic. The nonprofit shifted from traditionally-served meals to individual meal outreach and drive-through events reaching thousands across Hawaii.

“We are grateful to our Red Kettle partners that stood by us and even stepped up their support despite the challenges of COVID-19,” Martin said. “More than $604,000 was raised across Hawaii and the Pacific Islands via our extended Red Kettle campaign to help Rescue Christmas.”

Thanks to the generosity of individuals and partners, more than 31,000 Angel Tree gifts were distributed during the 2020 holiday season. Additionally, over $47,000 was raised for keiki and kupuna gifts and year-round programs to support those in need.

“Monetary donations in our traditional and virtual Red Kettles supported our social service programs and the generous monetary gifts and in-kind donations to our Angle Tree program provided many smiles for keiki and kupuna on Christmas morning,” Martin said. “We know the pandemic continues and we have much work yet to do. We are grateful to know that our communities are willing to step up. Let’s continue to work together to keep everyone safe, healthy, fed and cared for throughout 2021.”

The Salvation Army Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division covers the state of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands including Guam, Republic of the Marshall Islands and The Federated States of Micronesia.

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For more information or to contribute, visit www.hawaii.salvationarmy.org.

Know a Hometown Hero that should be highlighted next Wednesday? It can be anybody, from a youngster doing good for the community, to a professional helping with the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a kupuna! Please send your nominations to cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com with the subject: Hometown Heroes Nomination. Please include the hero’s name, contact information and what makes them a hero.

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