05/03/17 — Salvation Army starts canteen program

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Salvation Army starts canteen program

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 3, 2017 9:57 AM

The Salvation Army of Wayne County has started a new Canteen Night Watch program as an outreach ministry in the local area.

The first Sunday of each month, the Salvation Army commanders and church members are going to some of the local hotels and some of the neighborhoods they served during Hurricane Matthew last October.

They prepare meals at the Salvation Army building, load them up on the organization's canteen and take them out to the people.

"We try to hit different areas each time we go out," said Lt. Phillip Stokes, commander. "Sometimes people give us ideas where to go. Some of the apartment complexes we go to, some of our clients we serve here and the children who take part in our youth activities live there.

"They may not be homeless, but it's a way for us to get out into the community and give somebody a warm meal, like the mom who might be working 40 or 50 hours a week and then has to come home and cook supper. This could just be a day they don't have to worry about that."

Lt. Sherrie Stokes with the Salvation Army said the organization is also trying to reach people who are really struggling to have healthy meals and are often just trying to keep their children fed.

"When we do to the low income housing, if we can take that one meal off them, it's going to help them out," she said. "We're finding the working mothers and fathers that are barely making it."

Mrs. Stokes said the Salvation Army has taken the canteen to the Piggly Wiggly parking lot on Lionel Street to serve meals, too.

"In that area, there's a lot of abandoned houses there, so we're finding people staying in those abandoned houses," she said.

The Salvation Army also goes to some of the local hotels to hand out meals.

"We had one gentleman come out of one of the hotels and tell us that he just spent his last $50 getting a room and hadn't eaten all day," Mrs. Stokes said. "Our meal was his only meal for the day. He was working, but didn't have anywhere to stay but at the hotel."

Stokes said it's more than just delivering a hot meal, though. It gives the servers an opportunity to learn this community.

And it's more than just receiving a hot meal.

"We tell the community about local resources," Stokes said. "One family we served meals to, I was telling the woman about our summer camp program and our youth activities. She didn't have a clue what we offered when it comes to kids. That was on a Sunday and that Monday night, her children were at our youth program and Wednesday night, her older two children came to our teen program, and they've been coming ever since.

"It's not so much about feeding food, but connecting people with resources. It's about building a relationship in the community."

Stokes is hoping to get others involved in the program, like churches, businesses, schools, civic groups, families and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"We're looking at starting to expand it in the next few months," he said. "My vision is to make this a community program. We do the first Sunday of every month because we don't have Sunday night services at the Salvation Army. It is a way to get our church people out of the building and into the community."

He said if other churches or other groups would like to help out, they could take a different night. The Salvation Army will provide the kitchen in which to prepare the meals and the canteen with which to deliver the meals out into the community. The more groups that get involved with Canteen Watch Night, the more opportunities there would be to get out into the community and make a difference.

Anyone wanting to help with the program should call the Salvation Army at 919-735-4811.

The organization is also running out of meats to include in the meals for Canteen Watch Night. Anyone wanting to donate any meats should drop them by the Salvation Army at 610 N. William St.