(Photos by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
SIKESTON -- A new chapter of The Salvation Army has formed in Sikeston -- and just in time for the holiday season.
"We officially formed in September, and the idea to start the chapter came after we had someone in the community who really needed help and had nowhere to get funds," said Jennifer Gooch, treasurer/welfare secretary of the Sikeston chapter.
Gooch and Nicole Woolsey, chapter treasurers who take care of community needs, can be contacted at their place of work, Family Support Division, 106 Arthur St. Suite A, in Sikeston.
Donations will solely benefit Sikeston residents. Those receiving help will be approved on a case by case basis with a team making the decision.
Then, for whatever reason, the chapter slowly disbanded.
"When we tried to help this man outside the office, there weren't a lot of places to go," Smith said.
Smith contacted The Salvation Army headquarters in St. Louis and learned a chapter could be started again in Sikeston. Smith said The Salvation Army chapter is very needed.
"The Cape Girardeau chapter helps anyone north of Morley, and New Madrid County helps those south of Sikeston so this will help those in Sikeston," Gooch said.
Gooch and Smith said they're looking forward to The Salvation Army's upcoming annual Red Kettle Christmas Campaign.
Volunteers will ring bells at Sikeston businesses every Saturday from Nov. 17 through Dec. 22 and the day after Thanksgiving at Food Giant, Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores and Save-A-Lot. Also bell ringers will be present during the Downtown Merchants Holiday Open House Nov. 9-10.
"The bell ringing is almost our sole source of income to fund the charity work," Gooch said.
Both Smith and Gooch said volunteers to ring bells are needed. Anyone interested should contact the chapter as soon as possible to secure a date, they said.
Word about the newly formed chapter is quickly getting out to the community, Gooch said.
Since September the chapter has assisted individuals who needed help with paying for their medication, utilities and rent, Smith said.
"There are lots of things we can do," Smith said. "For example, if a transient wanders in here and is homeless and needs a bus ticket to get home, we can help them with that. There are really lots of needs there --if we have the funds available."
To avoid duplicating services, the chapter is working in a joint effort with churches, Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation, Mission Missouri and Bootheel Food Bank.
"We also check with these other places to make sure we haven't helped (that individual) within the year," Smith said. "So far we feel like we're heading on that right track."
To volunteer or to make a donation, call 472-5222.