Giving All, Giving Hope

For many years, the Christmas season began for me the day I rang the bell for The Salvation Army. Many special memories remain bright with me.

By tradition, members of The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Advisory Board volunteered to staff the three kettles at entries to the downtown Macy’s when it was still a shopping mecca. I preferred a kettle on Peachtree Street at noon on a Monday so I could harass the well-heeled Rotarians streaming by to their meeting in the next building and the lawyers pouring out of the 191 Building to a power lunch.

Drawing the short straw one day, I was positioned at the rear door — and in place for one of those memories.

A half block away, a man came my way with that slow, flat-footed shuffle of an alcoholic. With a blanket rolled over his shoulder and a stuffed shopping bag in hand, obviously he was homeless. He focused on the kettle setup. Uh-oh, I thought, he’s going to ask for a handout. That happens now and then. Ringers are to direct the request to a Salvation Army service center.

Still ringing away and urging donations, I watched him out of the corner of my eye. Passing by, he went behind me where the smoking stand was piled high with discarded Styrofoam boxes from the cinnamon bun shop just inside Macy’s. He found nothing.

Retracing his steps, he paused before the kettle, reached deep in his trouser pocket and brought out a dime, a nickel and perhaps three pennies — 18 cents — and dropped them in the kettle.

“I wish I could do more,” he said as he moved on.

“Friend,” I replied to his back, “You have done more for me this Christmas than you can know.”

I think of that man from time to time and hope that spirit has prospered. Perhaps today he is ringing a bell for The Salvation Army.

-Written by Jim Montgomery, a dedicated Salvation Army Advisory Board member and veteran bellringer!

GREAT FUTURES START HERE Banquet

The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta hosted its annual Great Futures Start Here Banquet on March 15, 2016. Todd Gerelds, author of Woodlawn, was the keynote speaker. Woodlawn a dramatic, powerful, and true story of redemption and reconciliation that occurred in the middle of what many say was the most racially charged and volatile era of Birmingham, Alabama’s history.

The Great Futures Start Here Youth of the Year program celebrates local youth who have overcome enormous odds and demonstrated exceptional character. These deserving young people are recognized for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family. Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.  These young men and women represent their Club in our Great Futures Start Here Banquet, where one is selected as The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta’s Youth of the Year.

Salvation Army Youth of the Year Nominees:

Diante Scruggs– Fuqua Youth of the Year

Diante Scruggs has been a member of the Fuqua Boys and Girls Club for eleven years and has participated in Torch Club, Keystone Club (as a past President, Vice President, and Treasurer), Money Matters, Career Launch, Smart Moves and has participated in every program the club could possibly have to offer. He is a sophomore at Creekside High School and plans to attend Howard University or Alabama State in the Fall of 2018 to pursue a career in Sports Broadcasting for the NBA or NFL. Diante is highly self-disciplined, dedicated to his work, and ready to assume additional responsibilities.

Niya Pearson– Peachcrest Youth of the Year

Niya Pearson has been an active member of the club for nine years, most recently serving as the clerk in the Keystone Store through the Money Matters program and as a peer mentor. Currently a freshman at Arabia Mountain High School, Niya plans to attend Clark Atlanta University with dreams of becoming a talk show host or sports broadcaster. Niya is someone who embodies integrity, service, and leadership. She has a positive spirit, is extremely hardworking, and advocates unity, academic rigor, and personal growth.

Jasmine Maddox– 2016 Youth of the Year The Salvation Army  Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta

Jasmine Maddox attends KIPP Atlanta Collegiate where she is a senior enrolled in AP courses and multiple honor societies. Jasmine has been a member of the club for thirteen years where she has achieved and excelled in multiple programs, served as a Junior Staff member, tutored her peers, volunteered, mentored club youth, and serves as the President of the Keystone Club. Jasmine has been accepted into Wesleyan College in Macon, GA and will be enrolling in classes in the Fall of 2016 where she has aspirations of becoming a high school English teacher. Jasmine is a natural leader with a heart for service. She has a passion for making a difference in the lives of youth and is eager to be the change she wishes to see in the world.