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Salvation Army cupboards not bare ... yet

Donations down as holiday season approaches
By: Susan Belknap Press-Tribune Editor
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Business is booming for Chris Aird. But in his line of work that is not always a good thing. Aird and his wife Lisa are captains of the Salvation Army Church in Roseville and with the economic slump so many area residents are experiencing, the church is serving more guests than ever. “In September we distributed 210 food baskets for local families compared to 73 for the month of August,” Chris Aird said. “Normally when we serve our weekly Friday lunch we serve 60-70 meals. Recently we served 150 guests in our dining facility.” While Chris Aird certainly isn’t complaining about offering services to so many needy people, the problem this year has been a decrease of donations the church has received of late. The food pantry at the church, which is located at 100 Lincoln Street in Roseville, is usually so full it is difficult to find a path to walk through. While the shelves are still stocked, due the recent KidsCan food drive, the path through the pantry is much easier to find. Ryan Asche, who is employed by the Salvation Army as a major gift officer, has also noticed a decline in donations. Asche is responsible for soliciting donor contributions and he said he’s seen a downturn as well. “Some people are still giving,” Asche said. “But instead of writing one big check, that they usually do for the year, more people are spreading it out into smaller donations throughout each season.” As the holiday season approaches Aird is concerned. He said he’s seeking alternative methods to serve those people in need. One new approach he said he is considering is to solicit community volunteers to conduct the church’s bell ringing campaign, which will soon begin. In past years, those people stationed at various retail establishments throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas season were paid employees. But serving meals a few times during the week and providing monthly food supplies for needy families is not the only way Chris Aird said the Salvation Army assists those in need. The church also aids families with payments of electric bills and even rent assistance. Chris Aird said the Salvation Army Church, with its beginnings in 1865 in England, is known throughout the world as a social service group that prides itself on providing soup, showers and salvation to those down and out on their luck. Aird and his wife are ordained ministers and not only help out with the weekday operation of the church but also provide Sunday morning services to a congregation of about 60 to 70 worshippers and weekly Bible study and youth groups as well. The Roseville location is the center for worship and assistance for all of south Placer County including Rocklin, Lincoln, Loomis and portions of Citrus Heights. “We’ve seen a lot of need out there,” Chris Aird said. “We see new people each week and not just those who are homeless. We have guests who are employed but are just having a hard time financially and they come here to get a good, free meal.” In order to provide those who visit the Salvation Army Church with free showers Friday mornings, a change of clothes and a hot meal, Chris Aird said he depends on the assistance of dozens of volunteers. Volunteers like Ingrid Phippen, who is in charge of organizing the Friday meal service. Phippen, a member of the Warehouse Christian Ministries Church of Roseville, makes the trip from her home in Penryn each Friday to volunteer her services. “When I was offered the chance to do this (volunteer) I jumped,” Phippen said. “I do this because I want to give dignity to the people I see here. I have a passion for the people. Coming here each Friday is the best part of my week.” Phippen said she’s noticed an increase in the number of families she has been serving lately, especially toward the end of the month when money often runs low. While there are members of various organizations such as Phippen’s church that regularly volunteer to make and serve the meals the Salvation Army Church provides, Phippen said there is always room for more. “I encourage people to come down and help,” Phippen said.