LIVE from Woodfield Mall: WBBM Good Neighbor Radiothon

WBBM Good Neighbor Radiothon - Dec 8, 2017

On Friday, December 8, The Salvation Army and WBBM are once again joining forces to bring you the WBBM Good Neighbor Radiothon benefiting the Bed & Bread Club®. From 5 a.m. – 11 p.m., WBBM 780 AM & 105.9 FM will broadcast live from Woodfield Mall with volunteers from WBBM Newsradio and The Salvation Army answering your call to raise funds through the support of listeners like you. All proceeds help provide services for people who are homeless or hungry.
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At the Heart of Chicago: Bed & Bread Club

The Salvation Army - Bed & Bread Club Chicago

What makes Chicago great?

It’s gotta be our sports teams – the 2016 World Series Champion Cubs or the legendary, 6-time World Champion Bulls. Or maybe it’s our pizza – deep dish, golden crust, filled with sauce, cheese and other drool-inducing toppings. But, then again, our culture is great too – numerous art galleries, historical museums and, of course, The Second City! Sure, all of these are a part of who we are. But, the thing that makes this city truly great is our heart.

You see, at The Salvation Army we have witnessed the desire Chicagoans have to help their neighbors; to put the needs of others above their own. That’s why we created the Bed & Bread Club® Chicago, a comprehensive program focused on providing food and shelter to those most in need in our great city.

The premise behind the Bed & Bread Club is simple:
You pledge to give whatever amount you choose each month.
Your donation then helps provide food, shelter and other necessities so struggling people can get back on their feet.

Simply put, you’re joining forces with The Salvation Army as we fight for the hungry and homeless in a way that makes a real difference . . . in their lives, and the well-being of our great city.

It’s hard to believe that it is 2017 (almost 2018!) and there are still people who don’t know when or where their next meal will come from; that families huddle together under bridges, trying to escape the cold. When they turn to us, it’s comforting to know that we can turn to kindhearted people like you to support us as we provide hope to those who have lost sight of it.

This holiday season, if you are not already a member, be a gift to our community by joining the Bed & Bread Club. Or dedicate your membership on behalf of a friend or loved one. There’s no better way to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas than to open your heart and help our neighbors in need.

To find our more about this impactful giving program, visit BedAndBreadChicago.org or sign up to receive our e-newsletter.

Local Volunteer Keeps Christmas Assistance Program Running in Norridge

While Christmas comes at the end of the calendar year for the rest of us, it starts in October for Salvation Army officers, staff and volunteers. That’s when Oak Park-native Cora Burton, long-time volunteer at The Salvation Army Norridge Corps Community Center, starts recruiting area corporate and community partners to support the Angel Tree program. The program provides Christmas gifts for area families who would otherwise not be able to afford them. Families also receive a Christmas dinner box.

“My letters to companies requesting their support go out October 1,” Burton said. “Then I’ll make follow-up phone calls in a few weeks.” Burton, who has run the program for nine years, has this process down to a science. This year, she sent out more than 3,400 Angel Tree tags with wish lists to 90 different businesses and individuals. “This year we’ve had a lot of new donors in the program. That always makes me happy.”

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Salvation Army reaches out to homeless individuals in Northwest suburbs

Though homelessness is often considered an urban issue, the numbers of homeless in suburban communities of Chicago has been on the rise for several years. For example, in Northwest Suburban Cook County, the homelessness rate has risen by 55 percent over the past two years, with more than 1,850 school students, the easiest homeless population to track, being reported as homeless.

But The Salvation Army’s Des Plaines Corps Community Center outreach volunteers are working to ensure that those living on the streets aren’t invisible. Every Tuesday and Friday for the past two years, Bill and Debbi Middendorp have loaded up their Salvation Army van to drive through Wheeling, Prospect Heights, Des Plaines and Arlington Heights to distribute sandwiches, snacks, water and hygiene items to those sleeping on the streets.

Food for the program is often donated from A & H Vending, and socks and other basic physical needs are provided through school collection drives and donations from area social service agencies and churches.

“Last year we handed out nearly 1,700 meals,” said Debbi. “And sometimes they can stretch the nonperishable foods across three meals or more, which means there were approximately 5,100 times that they were not digging through garbage cans or panhandling.”

If possible, the Middendorps help move people into more stable housing. “Sometimes we’ll take them to our Adult Rehabilitation Center where they are offered shelter and can learn life and work skills in The Salvation Army’s family stores,” said Bill. “We’ve helped a few people reunite with their loved ones and go back home with their families.”

If they’re not able to move people from the streets into stable housing, they try to offer practical help. “We help people fill out the forms to get their state ID or social security cards. It is very rare for a person to be considered for an apartment or a job without proper identification,” said Debbi.

“We’ve helped people get their social security checks. One man, who was 68, had no idea how to get his benefits.”

Even in the shadow of sadness, their work can bring hope and love to others. For example, Bill and Debbi arranged for a memorial service after one of their homeless friends had passed away. “We held it near the forest preserve where he and his friends lived. His mother and brother came to the service. It was healing for them to meet his friends and hear how he had touched their lives,” Debbi remembered. “The service was also so important for that community because they often feel invisible.”
Bill and Debbi see their work with the homeless outreach program as a part of their ministry. Their hearts are dedicated to their work. “We’ve enjoyed getting to know each person and their story,” Debbi said.

“They’re all unique, but often filled with hopelessness, pain and loss. We want to bring them hope and love.”

“It’s nice to see their faces light up when we come to visit them,” Bill added.