Salvation Army encourages donations outside of holiday season

Local father shares story of hope

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published January 15, 2021

 Salvation Army Maj. Tim Meyer stands at a donation center bellringing in early December.

Salvation Army Maj. Tim Meyer stands at a donation center bellringing in early December.

Photo provided by The Salvation Army


SOUTHFIELD — You’ve seen them before outside the local grocery store, and chances are you’ve heard the ringing of a bell calling for donations for the less fortunate. What you’ve seen and heard is the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, an annual fundraising drive with an $8 million goal.

Despite making adjustments due to COVID-19, the Salvation Army finds itself $1.9 million away from its goal.

“The Red Kettle Campaign funds our Christmas assistance and the specialized things we do during the holiday season,” Salvation Army Maj. Tim Meyer said. “It also enables our 13 core community centers in the tri-county area to operate year round.”

The coronavirus pandemic has without a doubt hindered the Salvation Army’s fundraising attempts. Heading into the holiday season, Meyer and the Salvation Army didn’t know what the campaign would look like.

Meyer didn’t know how many volunteers would be willing to stand in front of stores and collect money. Potential donors carrying less cash was another issue that showed itself. In order to fix those problems, the Salvation Army placed QR codes at each Red Kettle location. Shoppers could scan the code and donate online.

Perhaps the biggest issue the Salvation Army faced this holiday season was people not having enough spare change to donate. The holidays are tough on most people financially, especially in 2020. But no matter how tough times are for someone, there’s always someone else who has it worse.

“Even if someone is feeling strapped, there is someone who’s way worse off then they are,” Meyer said. “We’re asking people who may be thinking of their new year’s resolution to think if they pledge to give a monthly amount, they’ll be able to make ends meet. That will help someone who absolutely can’t make ends meet to be helped.”

Meyer said the Salvation Army uses everything sent its way. Whether it’s a check for $10 or $100, whether it’s a can of green beans or an entire turkey dinner, or whether it’s one pair of warm gloves or an entire ensemble of winter clothing, they use it all.

One success story that came from Salvation Army donations was that of Madison Heights resident Larry Looney.

It was Thanksgiving 2019, and Looney sat alone in a house with no electricity. During a holiday season almost always spent with family and loved ones, Looney, a single father, had to send his infant son off to a relative’s while he worked because he couldn’t afford to pay a babysitter. With seemingly nowhere to turn, Looney reached out to the Salvation Army.

“It got really bad for me, and I reached out,” he said. “I figured I would be eligible for some kind of assistance. I followed a link that led me to the Salvation Army. We had a couple conversations at the beginning about how I was doing with the changes in my life. They definitely provided food and a really nice high chair that I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.”

With seemingly the weight of the world already on top of him, Looney was behind on his rent. With the help of caseworker Nancy Tsui, the Salvation Army was able to provide two months rent and a prayer session that changed Looney’s life.

Looney, in an attempt to turn his life around, was in the running for a new job as a dialysis technician. Knowing this news and knowing that Looney was growing frustrated, Tsui said a quick prayer. As soon as Tsui finished praying, Looney said, he received an email that the job was his. He is now eligible to work anywhere in the country.

“I was very grateful and also very ashamed that I had been put in a position to need this kind of help,” Looney said. “I’ve always been independent and working since I was 11. I’ve always been able to maintain my stuff. I was definitely grateful that someone was looking out for me and my son.”

If Salvation Army supporters want to donate to the nonprofit’s efforts, they can do so by exploring a few different options. Text “GIFT” to 24365, visit, call 877-SAL-MICH or send a check made payable to The Salvation Army to 16130 Northland Dr., Southfield MI 48075.

The Red Kettle Campaign concludes Jan. 31.