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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Oct 20, 2020

Salvation Army Expands Services, Establishes Warehouse in Red Bank

By Shanna O'Mara

Photos courtesy of Salvation Army of New Jersey/Jerome Green

As the pandemic shuttered many small businesses, schools, churches and nonprofits this year, one service organization expanded its reach, opening three warehouses throughout the state to facilitate helping those in need during an unprecedented time. The Salvation Army consists of 29 locations in New Jersey, including one in Red Bank. These are corps community centers that feature church congregations, programs for kids and adults, food pantries, and other services offered locally.

Major James Betts, divisional commander who oversees operations in New Jersey, has been in his position for two years now and said regulations imposed in response to the virus have altered operations at the Salvation Army facilities.

“Our mission hasn’t changed,” he said. “We work to restore hope, come alongside people who are struggling and help them find a path forward. That hasn’t changed. How we do that has changed. Just like after 9/11 and [Superstorm] Sandy, we had to adapt to the way things are during COVID-19. We’ve been serving food in a controlled manner for safety. Of course, for months, we couldn’t meet in person indoors, so we had to take resources and redirect them toward feeding people.”

The Salvation Army has been operating food pantries across the country for 150 years. Between March and August 2019, the army served 680,000 meals to those in New Jersey. During that same period this year, the peak of the pandemic, more than 4.8 million meals were served, according to Betts. In Red Bank, 9,600 meals were distributed last year during that six-month period compared to 37,000 this year. This location has also been serving as one of three warehouses in the state, storing food, toilet paper and personal protection equipment to be allocated in nearby towns.

Betts, who is a fourth-generation member of the organization, said he has been “heavily involved” in charitable work since he was young.

“When I pictured my future, I never saw anything different,” he said of his decision to continue in the path of his family. “I love helping people. I love giving people hope and helping to break the poverty cycle.”

To break that cycle, the Salvation Army not only offers meals to those in need. The organization also assists people with mortgage, rent and utility payments. There are three drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in the state as well. The army runs an emotional and spiritual help line, which is open to all those needing support. To speak with someone, call 844-458-HOPE (4673) any day between 9 am and 9 pm.

“Nationally, there have been 900,000 calls in the past six months,” Betts said. “People are really hurting. Check on your friends and your neighbors.”

Volunteers from the Salvation army recently made trips to nursing homes, connecting with residents safely from outside their windows. Betts said he joined one musician on a trip who played for the people inside the building. After the music ended, one person threw a paper airplane out the window with the words “Thank you” written on it.

All photos courtesy of Salvation Army of New Jersey/Jerome Green

Volunteering is a great way to get involved with the Salvation Army, Betts said, especially when more programs begin to be held in person again. With the current restrictions, access to the 29 locations in New Jersey locations is limited, so the easiest way to help increase the reach of the volunteers is to donate. Betts said he is grateful for corporate partners such as Ikea, who has linens, pillows and blankets. Those wishing to get involved are encouraged to visit SalvationArmyNJ.com.

“The demand for food is still strong” he said. “The need is growing, but financial resources are harder to come by. I’m so grateful for the people in New Jersey who have stepped up. Even if they’re in need, they help others.

“Now it’s odd to think about, but Christmas is around the corner. The army is known for those red kettles. Those are going to be challenged this year. That’s a financial hit the army is preparing to mitigate. Be on the lookout for those because they can receive mobile gifts.”

Donations are also accepted on the Salvation Army’s website.

The Salvation Army Red Bank Corps is located at 180 Newman Springs Rd. in Red Bank and services the following areas of Northern Monmouth County.

For food pantry: Atlantic Highlands, Belford, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Fort Monmouth, Highlands, Keansburg, Leonardo, Lincroft, Little Silver, Locust, Middletown, Monmouth Beach, Navesink, New Monmouth, Oceanport, Port Monmouth, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Shrewsbury and Tinton Falls.

For financial assistance: Atlantic Highlands, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Highlands, Little Silver, Monmouth Beach, Oceanport, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Shrewsbury and Tinton Falls.