An Army of volunteers; Event puts focus on helping one another

Published on May 13, 2017 – Melanie Tucker, The Daily Times
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(Maryville) Salvation Army, an organization mostly known for its Red Kettle campaign at Christmastime, held an event Thursday night to recognize the tireless work done all year by its volunteers.

Lt. Whitney Tomberlain, Maryville Corps Officer, announced the recipient of two awards. Vicki Borden won the Helping Hands Award, while Bike Elf received the Red Shield Community Impact Award.
Borden was unable to attend, but Bike Elf President Dwight and his wife Leigh were there to accept theirs.

Tomberlain said Borden has been a SA volunteer for three years. She also created and manages the data base for Salvation Army’s Angle Tree program that provides clothes and toys for Blount County’s needy families at Christmas. Borden sorts toys and clothes for this project, Tomberlain said, calling this volunteer a “joyful servant.”

Nonprofit Bike Elf began in Townsend when the Wilsons decided to take in used bikes, refurbish them and give them to youth in the community. They are teamed up with the Blount County Boys and Girls Club in addition to the Salvation Army.

“They donated 30 new bikes to Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program,” Tomberlain said. Plus 100 bike helmets and 100 bike locks. Tomberlain said the Wilsons are examples of what eagerness and enthusiasm to serve can accomplish.

She also talked about the various programs Salvation Army offers in Blount County. There is the Gas for Go-Getters, which provides gas vouchers for those looking for a job. Participants complete a job readiness class that helps them prepare for an interview, Tomberlain said.

Children and youth are also invited to a Tuesday evening program each week that includes a meal and learning opportunity. Ages 6-16 are welcome.

Feeding the hungry

Every Friday, SA volunteers staff a mobile canteen in the parking lot of Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, handing out free lunches. Tomberlain said because of that weekly outreach, this SA was able to feed a homeless man and also help him get a job and a place to live. About 70 individuals come to the canteen each week.

Last Christmas, this Salvation Army served 138 families at Christmas, and a total of 332 children.

The speaker for the evening was the Rev. Charles Maynard, Maryville District superintendent for the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. He told a personal growing-up story about his school days and lessons learned when you take the time to get to know someone.

He took the audience back to his elementary school days and service on the Safety Patrol. He described a school janitor they called Cy, short for Cyclops, he said, because the man had a glass eye, was missing some fingers and walked with a limp.

But on a day when the school received a new flag pole and flag, these elementary school students saw the janitor stand at attention and salute. He looked the way he did and walked they way he did because he served his country and was injured by a grenade.

“We had seen that man every day for six years but we never saw him,” Maynard said. “We never knew who he was.”

Maynard said he also came to understand his community had given the man a job because they wanted to help a wounded veteran. “They gave him a job, a place at the school,” Maynard said.

He compared what that community did to what the Salvation Army is all about.

“This Army we talk about tonight sees people as they really are, for who they are, for who they can be, for things they can do in our community,” he said. “It’s our role to be a part of this force that reaches out to our neighbors in need. Salvation Army helps us see our neighbors and to do something about that.”