Salvation Army Plans For Christmas in Felixstowe
The Salvation Army is a worldwide Christian church and registered charity that has been fighting against social inequality and transforming lives for over 150 years.
Take a moment to read that sentence again! What an incredible legacy and still the work continues and is needed as much today as it ever was.
The Salvation Army offers practical support and services to all who need them, regardless of ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. This includes working to break the cycle of homelessness, helping victims of modern slavery, helping people in debt to get on their feet, campaigning on behalf of those who struggle to be heard by decision-makers, providing access to activities for older people… It’s a long list and I encourage you to visit the Salvation Army website to find out more.
Led by newly appointed Corps Officers Major David and Katerina Lennox, the Salvation Army Church and Community Centre on Cobbold Road is a hive of activity. A typical week includes All-age Worship on Sunday from 10.30am and again at 5.30pm, an Open-air Church Service from 12.05pm at the Triangle, a parent & toddler group, Look-Out! prayer meeting group, Friends Together Christian ladies meeting, Bible Study groups, Children’s Mid-week Church, brass band and adult choir practices, and Sally Crafters who meet to knit, make and natter. Members of the church also visit people in their homes, hospitals and retirement homes and supply food parcels and support to those in need.
Much of this activity has been impacted by the pandemic. The church and community hall are still closed, but services are provided on YouTube and Facebook. Many other activities now take place via Zoom including coffee mornings, Prayer Matters, Explorer children’s club for ages 5-11, Sunday School and weekly contact meetings for the musical sections. For up-to-date information visit the website or Facebook page.
When the lockdown was first announced back in March, the team at the Salvation Army quickly gathered their resources to respond. As the systems were already in place to provide emergency supplies and food parcels, the team were amongst the first to identify and respond to the need and have continued to do so now for several months.
I spoke to Gemma Saxton (Voluntary Community Outreach Worker) who told me of the tremendous effort made by volunteers to prepare and deliver food parcels, all made possible through the kindness of church members and Felixstowe residents and businesses. Volunteers Maggie and John Cheadle worked solidly through the lockdown period to ensure that no one went without. They organised food parcels, safely arranged deliveries of parcels to those shielding, and if needed, supportive follow-up phone calls.
Gemma is keen to stress that anyone can ask for help. The Salvation Army gets referrals from several sources, but anyone who finds themselves in need will be met with open arms (metaphorically of course!). The message: Never be afraid to ask!
Christmas in a Box
This work continues but with plans also forming for Christmas Day. Jackie Fincham (Voluntary Christmas Day Co-ordinator) is pleased to report that while dinner will not be served in the church building this year, The Salvation Army will be providing a Christmas Day service.
Christmas in a Box will be delivered to everyone who is already on their radar, has been referred by an organisation or a member of the public, or who requests a meal for themselves. In addition to a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, the Christmas Day delivery will also include a CD or DVD with a message from the Mayor of Felixstowe, Councillor Mark Jepson with a selection of Christmas Carols, a present, a Christmas cracker, a pack-up for evening tea and some Christmas goodies including handmade gifts from children in local schools.
The logistics of this extraordinary effort are almost too much for my brain to comprehend, but it will happen. Of that, I have no doubt.
The ‘rule of six’ will make it extra difficult as the number of staff in the kitchen and the delivery rota will have to be managed very carefully. More delivery drivers will be required this year, so if you can give up some time on the day, please see the poster on page ? for Jackie Fincham’s contact details.
Of course, food donations and/or financial contributors are critical too. Gemma is confident that supermarkets, local shops and others will be generous again this year. Every donation, however small, will be appreciated by Jackie and her team of volunteers and leave a very positive impression on the ultimate recipient. Items for presents will be appreciated too, and therein lies another great Salvation Army project.
Gifts of Joy is the title of another Christmas project which aims to give a present or much-needed food parcel or hamper to people/families in need this year. Here too, the Salvation Army will respond to referrals but also welcomes requests from friends, family members or individuals who need help in some form over the Christmas period. It may be that you simply can’t afford any of those little extras this year, or that even the smallest present for your children is beyond your means after a difficult year. Don’t suffer in silence; call the Salvation Army and they will respond.
If you would like to donate to the Gifts of Joy project, see the poster below on how.