Over 300 people were in attendance as The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta hosted their annual Doing the Most Good Luncheon on November 5th in the Oceans Ballroom located at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia. Jennifer Valdez, meteorologist for CBS 46’s Better Mornings Atlanta emceed the ceremony in the dimly lit ballroom with large aquatic observation windows that housed exotic fish and animals from every part of the globe. CBS 46 is the official media sponsor for The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta’s Angel Tree Program. The Angel Tree program gives individuals and partnering corporations an opportunity to provide personalized Christmas gifts over 12,000 less fortunate children and seniors.
After lunch, Ambassador Andrew Young took to the podium to set the tone of what was a very motivational afternoon. Ambassador Young brings a unique perspective, honed by his wealth of experience in national and global leadership, to his focus on this era’s challenges such as homelessness, youth development and human trafficking.
“You can travel to almost any country in this world and you will see a Salvation Army,” said Ambassador Young. “The impact The Salvation Army has on this community, the one we love, and across the globe should inspire everyone to give back in any way possible.”
Ambassador Young spoke about humanity, travelling the world and the future of our community and country. His most memorable story was about a young boy from New Orleans. The product of a middle-class family—his father was a dentist, his mother a teacher—he had to travel from his neighborhood to attend segregated schools. He learned early on about the value of education. It wasn’t until he met another young man who was much smarter than himself but heading down a different and dark path that he realized the importance of exposure and community activism. He learned that we must reach back to help those who are lost. We must share our resources with the less fortunate and we must do it with the faith that generations to come will continue the legacy.
This is how Ambassador Young became who he is today; a community rights leader, former Atlanta City Mayor, former U.S. Congressman and the first African-American ambassador to the United Nations.
He has devoted his life in the service of others which aligns with the work and ministry of The Salvation Army. This way of servant leadership is best illustrated by the scripture Matthew 25:35 “For 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”.
The ceremony continued to celebrate the spirit of giving by honoring longtime partners, AutoTrader.com with the Other’s award and the Chick-fil-A Foundation with the inaugural Commander’s Award.
The “Others Award” honors an individual or organization exemplifying an extraordinary spirit or services to others. This award is one of the highest honors given by The Salvation Army internationally. AutoTrader.com has been supporting The Salvation Army since 2006 through their partnership with the Angel Tree and Boys & Girls Club programs.
Over the years, AutoTrader.com has adopted over 1,000 angels from the Angel Tree program providing their employees a fun, meaningful way to give back over the holidays. They also provide teams of volunteers who give hundreds of hours each year at the Angel Tree Warehouse and The Salvation Army’s three Boys & Girls Clubs.
The Commander’s Award is a new award that recognizes a partner who has aligned with The Salvation Army’s mission to make an immediate impact across the Metro Atlanta Area. Within the last 18 months, the Chick-fil-A Foundation has become an integral partner in the 2013 and 2014 Christmas season as the Angel Tree sponsor with CBS 46.
Chick-fil-A has invited Boys & Girls Club members to participate in FCA camps for several summers and the inaugural WinShape camp held at Kennedy Middle School in the summer of 2014. The Salvation Army has also been grateful recipients of delicious Chick-fil-A food for many Salvation Army activities.
Former Mingledorf’s CEO, Bob and Mary Kesterton, was honored with the William Booth Award. The William Booth Award is one of the highest awards that may be conferred upon an individual by The Salvation Army. Nominees for this award are chosen based on The Salvation Army’s goal of service to man; outstanding service to the community through donation of time, expertise, and energy; outstanding humanitarian efforts within the community; and substantial contributions to the work of The Salvation Army in offering of time, talent and/or financial resources.
Bob and Mary Kesterton’s involvement with The Salvation Army began over 30 years ago with Mary joining the Women’s Auxiliary followed soon after with Bob’s inclusion as a member of the Metro Atlanta Advisory Board. Through the course of their combined service, Mary has held major leadership positions within the Women’s Auxiliary and Bob has chaired the Property Committee.
“We are so thankful to have supporters like AutoTrader.com, the Chick-fil-A Foundation and Bob and Mary Kesterton who are just as passionate about helping our neighbors in need as we are,” says Major Todd Hawks, metro Atlanta Area Commander.
The luncheon also served as the kick-off for the 2014 Red Kettle season. “By now are seeing hundreds of our Red Kettles in various locations throughout metro Atlanta. Our goal this year is to raise two million dollars. Funds donated to the Red Kettles allow us to support programs that provide meals, shelter, and critical social services to those in need year round,” says Major Todd Hawks “Last year we were able to provide over 169,000 people with a warm meal and 114,000 men, women, and children with shelter. The economy continues to have a slow recovery while food, fuel, and foreclosures continue to increase. The Salvation Army remains committed to doing the most good for suffering families in our community.”
The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta appreciates the support and generosity of the community over the years. Next year, The Salvation Army of Metro Atlanta will be celebrating 125 years of service. “It is our prayer that the upcoming year will be a blessing to the Army as well as a blessing to our supporters and most importantly—our neighbors in need,” says Major Todd Hawks. The Salvation Army’s mission has been and will always be — to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination. We look forward to another 125 years of service.”