Posted: June 13, 2013 at 1:23 pm
By Megan Funkhouser and Dustin Hooks
Among the hustle and bustle of one of Morgantown’s busiest roadways sits the Morgantown Salvation Army. Two buildings, located on University Avenue, house the Corps church, soup kitchen and thrift store.
The Salvation Army is perhaps most recognized in the community during the holiday season. Corps volunteers can be seen in front of local stores ringing bells and collecting donations. The work of the Salvation Army does not stop when the tinkling lights and decorated trees are taken down, but continues throughout the year.
Other social services provided by the Morgantown Salvation Army include assistance with food, rental eviction notices, clothing vouchers, utility disconnection notices, new prescriptions (non-narcotic) and in extreme cases motel fees or bus tickets. Bonnie Johnson, a Corps social worker, said that applicants must be residents of Monongalia County to receive services; they must also provide proof of identity.
The number of clients varies depending on month and time of year. In May, the Salvation Army saw 85 new individuals and 335 return cases, said Johnson.
The Corps relies solely on donations to provide all social services.
“The Salvation Army, worldwide, [is funded] only through the generosity of the public,” Johnson said. “Through media publicity and the constant reminder of our needs, donations have remained pretty steady.”
The Salvation Army Thrift Store is directly related to social services at the Morgantown Corps. Johnson oversees social services and approves clients for clothing and furniture vouchers. Once approved, clients redeem vouchers at the thrift store.
Dusta Stewart, who works at the thrift store, often deals with clients redeeming vouchers. Many of the clients receiving vouchers have lived through a natural disaster or are victims of fire.
“I take care of those who have clothing vouchers.” Stewart said. “Vouchers are papers approved to social services to provide clothing, shoes, backpacks, bedding and anything that meets the specific needs of the families or persons receiving the items.”
Along with assisting social services for disaster and fire victims, the store welcomes low-income and homeless customers. Giving back to the community is a group effort. The store, social services and the soup kitchen provide essential services to a struggling community.
“The purpose of the Salvation Army Store is to provide clothing and other items to the community for those in need, for those who have suffered from any kind of disaster or emergency in their lives,” Stewart said. “We also provide services to the community with low cost items.”
The Salvation Army has been present in Morgantown since 1897. Reaching the poor and suffering has been the center of this Christian denomination since its beginning. The goal of the ministry was to provide soup for the hungry, soap for those who needed cleaning and salvation for the soul.