Monday, April 7, 2014

A new home

It has been more than four years since this blog was started. Since then we have had numerous contributors and thousands of readers! You may have noticed a decrease in posts lately, we have been gearing up for a new and improved website that will now host our blog directly!

All of the posts on this site will remain, we think the stories told here are a great history of how we are Doing the Most Good in Tulsa!  We hope you will join us at our new home: www.salarmytulsa.org - just click on "News & Updates" to see our latest blogs.

Signing off!

~Lindsay

Friday, February 28, 2014

Youth of the Year Banquet Offers a Glimpse of our Good Future

With the headlines each day screaming of juveniles in trouble, declining graduation rates (depending on which study you read) and general malaise about the next generation of leaders, it might be easy to get depressed and worry about the future of our nation. That is unless you took the opportunity to attend the recent Tulsa Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year Banquet. It could be also called The Banquet of Hope.

At the banquet last week six youth who are members of the Salvation Army Tulsa Boys & Girls Clubs were honored for their exemplary accomplishments as members of their respective clubs. Four of the six competed for the Youth of the Year title. All are winners.

Established in 1947 nationally and in Tulsa in 1949, Youth of the Year is the Boys & Girls Club’s premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals, poise and public speaking ability.

Neariah Persinger
Sixteen-year-old Neariah Persinger of Broken Arrow was named 2014 Youth of the Year. The New Covenant High School senior is an honors student, holds six Oklahoma state swimming records and racked up an impressive 1,000-plus volunteer hours last year. She also created a 24-hour marathon swimming event that in two years raised over $1,200 for the Wounded Soldier Project. Her goal is to be an Olympic swimmer.

Miana McHenry
First runner-up was West Mabee nominee Miana McHenry, who has been a member since she was nine years old. At 17, Miana is a straight-A senior at Booker T. Washington High School, sings in the all-girl choir and is a member of the Student Council. She serves as the president of the West Mabee Keystone club and volunteers at all West Mabee sporting events and fundraisers. Her volunteer hours for the past year totaled 800.


Devin Duckett
Representing the “Mabee babies” was 17-year-old senior Devin Duckett, as second runner-up. Devin, a 12-year member of the Club, is a senior at Tulsa MET and volunteers at the Club with sports programs and Summer Day Camp. He also plays AAU basketball and wrestles for his school. He plans to attend Oral Roberts University or Oklahoma State University after graduation.

J'Day McIntosh
Third runner-up was Mabee Red Shield nominee J'Day McIntosh. Just 15, and a sophomore at Will Rogers High School, J’Day has been a member of the Mabee Red Shield Boys & Girls Club for eight years. She volunteers at football and basketball games and is a member of the Keystone Club. McIntosh plans on attending Oklahoma State University after graduation and wants to obtain a Master’s degree in Sports Therapy.

The honorees were awarded academic scholarships in the amounts of $4,000, $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

Also honored at the banquet were 12-year-old Hannah Farias of Sand Springs and 13-year-old Brittany Wilson of Sapulpa. Though too young yet to compete in the Youth of the Year, Hannah attends Clyde Boyd Middle School and is involved in band, horseback riding and softball and Brittany attends Sapulpa Middle School and is a member of Torch Club, Keystone Club and involved in many of the Club’s sporting programs.

Consistent throughout the competition, these youth used the words “family,” “second home,” and “a safe place to be” to describe their Club. That doesn’t just happen. It comes about through dedicated staff and volunteers.

Past B&G Club Advisory Council Chairman Danny Roe was awarded the Clay Satcher Award, named for Retired Major Clay Satcher, founder of the Tulsa clubs. This award honors a member of the community who has shown commitment and support for The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa. Maj. Satcher was the keynote speaker at the event and personally presented Roe his namesake award.
Major Clay Satcher, Danny Roe, David Litterell (Exec. Dir. Tulsa Boys & Girls Clubs)

Many of us attend countless events, banquets, anniversary dinners and other such celebrations that honor the lifetime or longtime achievements of professionals in our community.

What made this one different, and special, is we were tipping our hats to our future. And, if these youth are any indication at all, it’s a good one.

Thanks to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tulsa.

-DJ






Friday, February 14, 2014

T.D. Williamson + Launch Pad = a winning combination!

This week, Major Taylor, volunteer coordinator Jenny, and case workers Kelly and Tara and myself were honored to attend a lovely volunteer thank you luncheon for the employees of T.D. Williamson. The luncheon was held at The Silo in west Tulsa.


Major Taylor and Jenny shared the impact that T.D. Williamson had on different volunteer areas this past holiday season. TDW employees adopted over 140 Angel Tree angels, volunteered at distribution in Sapulpa and Tulsa, AND were trailblazers for our newest sponsorship opportunity, Launchpad.


Major Taylor presented a certificate of recognition to Annie Tomecheck, Supervisor, Global Community Investment, for the Launch Pad program.




In particular, we want to thank TDW for being the lead sponsor for the Launch Pad program and for being such generous patrons for a family in need.


Launch Pad is a NEW volunteer/sponsorship opportunity designed to bless a homeless family with minor children who live at the Center of Hope and are participating in the Supportive Housing Program (SHP). SHP consists of 16 1-3 bedroom apartments that clients can live in for up to 24 months, with sliding scale rent, while they pursue education, employment and stability for their family. Launch Pad sponsors redecorate and replace basic household goods- including furniture and beds. When clients complete their program and move out to permanent housing, they can take the furniture and goods, ready to set up house in their new place.


TDW's volunteer crew did a fabulous job, from maximizing space to personalizing and thinking of creature comforts. We are really impressed with the end product. Check out these pics of the TDW apartment's "After"-- amazing!









If you or your organization would like more information on sponsoring a Launch Pad apartment, please call Jenny McElyea, our volunteer coordinator, at 918-587-7801. It's an amazing opportuniy to positiviely impact a homeless family on a very basic level.
-Vicki



Monday, January 13, 2014

Volunteers: Making the Impossible, Possible!

Food Packing Day
Impossible. That is what Christmas at The Salvation Army would be without volunteers.

This Christmas more than 1,800 volunteers provided 7,635 hours of service. That many volunteers is the size of a small army. Which is kind of perfect!

Volunteer Davey from Pepsi was up
to his ears in stuff animals!
As the volunteer coordinator, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who were willing to give of their time just so others could have a Merry Christmas. As I was thanking our volunteers it blew my mind when they started thanking me!

The people who stood on their feet all day in a freezing warehouse were thanking me for this experience? Wow. I thought the cold or exhaustion had finally started getting to them. Then I realized something that everyone at The Salvation Army already knew. We truly have the most amazing volunteers in the world.
Serving a holiday meal.

If you gave any of your time to us this holiday season or even this year, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We couldn’t do it without you!

Thanks, so much,
 - Jenny




Activity              Volunteers             Hours

Bell Ringing *                 304               1520
Angel Tree                      240                 960
Christmas Eve Meal         35                   70
Gift Sorting                    150                 600
Checking Bags                  30                 150
Distribution                     750                3000
Food Sorting*                   75                  375
Thanksgiving                    46                    92
Food Packing                 217                  868

Total Volunteers/Hrs  1847               7635

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Red Kettles, Tradition and Why It's Important

“Hurry up, Mom. It’s cold!” complained my son as we stood outside a store, the first winter snow slapping us in the face. I was digging in my purse for a dollar to put in the Salvation Army red kettle. “Let’s just skip it,” he said. “What difference can just one dollar make?”

Just then I was able to put my gloved hand on the dollar bill I just knew was in there. I stuffed it in the kettle and we rushed on. But his comment, “What difference can just one dollar make?” weighed heavy on my mind. I wanted him to understand that it DOES make a difference; that our tradition of never passing a kettle without putting in a dollar was important.

So we volunteered one night to join other Salvation Army employees who volunteer to count kettle money. (No small feat for a germaphobe like me; money is riddled with grime and germs!)


Bell Ringer Eli Spillman
We all met in a secluded, private room and proceeded to empty the kettles that had been out with bell ringers that day. The paper money was all wadded or folded up as it must be to slip through the little slot on the kettles. Our job was to unfold each and every bill and smooth it out so it would go through a bill counting machine.

I was worried my 13-year-old would find it tedious and boring but he attacked the job in earnest, carefully smoothing the wrinkles from each bill, doing a little “happy dance” when the bill turned out to be a $10, $20 or $50 and dancing all the way around the room when he found a $100 bill. He was a good worker and as we left I was proud to accept compliments from the other adults about him and his great attitude.

But my “aha” moment came on the way home. We rode silently in the car; me focusing on the icy roads and him listen to “his” music through his headphones. Midway there, he took off the headphones, turned to me and said, “Mom, thanks for letting me do this tonight. Now I get why you put a dollar in every red kettle we pass.” With that he put his headphones back on and turned his focus to the screen of his phone.

I pulled into a QuikTrip and before getting out in the frosty weather to pump gas, I had to ask him what he “got” from that night.

He gave me that look that only a teenager can when they think you’re asking a question that they believe has an obvious answer and said:

“I realized tonight that it isn’t that the money WE put in that makes a difference, but it’s the money we ALL put in that does. If everyone did what we do and never passed a red kettle without putting SOMETHING in, just think of all the good things the Salvation Army could do with all that money. It’s pretty awesome, don’t you think?”

Yes, son, it is awesome. And so are you for “getting it”. I wish more did.

Friday, Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Tulsa Police and Tulsa Fire Department are having a bell ringing competition at Woodland Hills Mall. Go help them out!

Friday, Dec. 20 and Saturday, Dec. 21, money dropped in Salvation Army kettles will be matched dollar for dollar.

I invite you to join my son and I in our tradition of always putting something into every red kettle we pass. It makes a difference.

-DJ



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Toys Drives Galore!


As Christmas speeds towards us and the Angel Tree deadline approaches (this Friday, the 13th!), I want to highlight other ways to contribute to those needy children on the Angel Tree. If you can't afford to fulfill an Angel's whole wish list, consider purchasing 1 or 2 toys and drop them off (new & unwrapped) at a local toy drive! This year, we have 11 local toy drives, supporting the "Forgotten Angels" of the Angel Tree. With so many options, there's one close to you!

Our annual partner, Bank of Oklahoma, is accepting toys at each of their local Tulsa area branch locations.

Another traditional partner is Oral Roberts University (ORU); we love having this generous college community on board. Word on the street is that the college students love taking a 'trip to their childhood' when they go to buy Legos, Playdough and baby dolls!

This year, we are honored to have a number of local businesses join us for another year! Participating businesses include:
 Merritt's Bakery (all 3 Tulsa locations)
Tweet 4 Toys
The Alliday Show
Apsco, Inc.
Firstar Bank
Andolini's Pizza (both locations, Tulsa and Owasso)
Dilly Deli (downtown Tulsa)
 and we want to welcome Lakewood Park apartment homes on board as well!





Both Andolini's Pizza and Dilly Deli will make it worth your while to come in, offering a generous free pizza or 20% off (respectively) for the donation of a new toy! Sounds like a lunch date to me!

Andolini's in particular is collecting for older children (9-12), who are often considered 'more difficult' to buy for...good options for older kids include Legos, magic sets, craft and art sets, sports balls, journals, etc.!


Lastly, we are excited to renew our relationship with our old friends the Tulsa Oilers, as they host their annual Teddy Bear Toss at the December 21st game! Bring a teddy bear to the game to toss on the ice at half time; bears will be delivered to St. Francis Children's Hospital and to the Salvation Army's Joy Center! And say hi to our volunteer bellringers as you go into the game!

 Help make these community toy drives a success; donate!

~Vicki (aka Toy Drive Queen)




Monday, December 9, 2013

Give Santa A Helping Hand

For far too many area children – and Seniors – Christmas morning isn’t about squeals of laughter and torn paper and flying ribbon. It’s another day of wondering what the next meal will be or if there will even be one; of questioning why Santa visits other people’s homes but not theirs.

But through the generosity of Tulsa metro area residents and The Salvation Army Angel Tree program this scenario doesn’t have to happen. But we need your help.
 
The branches of the Salvation Army Angel trees in our area this year were heavy with more than 9,000 angels for adoption. Each paper angel represents an underprivileged child (angel) or senior and has a short list of gifts he or she hopes or needs to receive this Christmas.

As of today, Monday, Dec. 9, nearly 8,200 of these precious angels have been plucked from the trees and gifts are being purchased, giving Santa a much needed hand.

Although that is a wonderful thing, that number means there are still just over 800 angels that still need “adopted” or they will face a bleak and empty Christmas.

800.

And time is running short.

Angel tree gifts have to be returned to The Salvation Army by Friday, Dec. 13. Why so soon? For The Salvation Army, “Christmas Eve” is Dec. 18 because distribution of these 9,000+ angel gifts (and the accompanying food baskets) begins on Thursday, Dec. 19. The Joy Center volunteers need time to double-check the gift bags (yes, we DO check the list and check it twice, just like the song says) to be sure gifts are appropriate and that the gifts are matched to the tagged angel.


We know the weather has been a challenge but our countdown has begun. We need the angels adopted and then we need their gifts returned to us.

Angels may be adopted from the Woodland Hills and Promenade Malls, the Broken Arrow Boys and Girls Club (1400 West Washington), Walmart SuperCenter at 121st and Elm in Broken Arrow, the Sapulpa Walmart and Sand Springs Walmart. Gifts should be returned to their adoption location.

Can you help? Will you? Even Santa needs a helping hand sometimes.

--DJ