‘Army’ of volunteers powers nonprofit

The Salvation Army hosted a mahalo luncheon for its volunteers Thursday at the Kaua‘i War memorial Convention Hall, but not everyone could make it.

Instead of eating lunch, a few volunteers were serving it at the Lihu‘e Corps Community Center’s Kokua Soup Kitchen.

Staff agree that without individuals willing to donate their time, talents and treasures, the Salvation Army couldn’t survive.

“They are the army behind this uniform,” said Major Eloisa Martin, secretary for business for the Salvation Army’s Hawaiian and Pacific Islands division, pointing to her navy and white attire.

Martin, who spoke at the luncheon about how the Salvation Army’s efforts impact recipients’ lives, said about half of the organization’s manpower is volunteer.

Kaua‘i coordinator Capt. Mitham Clement reports that more than 200 people regularly donate their time throughout the year.

Salvation Army has operated on Kaua‘i since 1897. Today it runs youth programs on the Westside and offers family services from its Lihu‘e office such as emergency food, utility, clothing and rental assistance.

In addition, the thrift store serves as a workplace for court-mandated community service.

“With the price of gas and food … more and more people are coming to us,” Clement said.

According to Martin, the needs on Kaua‘i are similar to those around the state. She said families aren’t spending their money on clothing, resulting in an increase in demand.

“They’d rather buy food,” Martin said of struggling families.

In addition, the Kaua‘i Salvation Army runs its soup kitchen twice a week. Thanks to recently released state funding, meals may soon be offered four days a week.

Mary McFarland, the soup kitchen coordinator, said the current Tuesday lunches and Thursday dinners reach a huge mix of Kaua‘i residents in need — from seniors to the homeless to struggling families with children. She said volunteers are “absolutely essential” to providing this service to the community.

For more information about Salvation Army services on Kaua‘i, visit www.salvationarmyhawaii.org

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