A New Perspective: The General’s Christmas Message 2015

General André Cox, international leader of The Salvation Army, has shared his vision for the Christmas season with the following message:

It is with hearts filled with thanksgiving and praise to God that we should enter this Christmas season. I hope we will all take time to reflect and contemplate the everlasting love and eternal plan of salvation that God has prepared since the beginning of time for all mankind.

We certainly have had ample opportunity to reflect on the boundless love of God to The Salvation Army throughout this milestone year of the 150th anniversary celebrations. Once again, now, we think of the extravagant love of God who gave us the greatest gift of all, knowing full well that most of us would not realise the value.

Isaiah wrote: ‘He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem’ (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Despite it all, God still went ahead with his plan of salvation for the world! That is why Christmas is such a special time. The extraordinary revelation is that God sees things differently from us.

One of the first things Mary says in her song of thanksgiving to God is: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant’ (Luke 1:46-48).

We see here a clear distinction between the values of God and those of mankind. God is ready to give his all to save men and women like you and me. God is the God of eternity, he is the Almighty and yet he shows his love and concern for weak, imperfect human beings.

The subject of great joy expressed by Mary is a subject of great joy for us all. Yet she continues with another outpouring of thanksgiving and joy: ‘For the Mighty One has done great things for me …’ (Luke 1:49).

One of the elements of the Christmas story which never ceases to amaze me is to think that God is such a great and powerful being, yet he still is interested in us. That is why Mary rejoices and why we should rejoice as we look forward to celebrating the coming of Christ that changed the course of human history. God is ready to stoop down and even to use imperfect men and women to accomplish his plan.

Despite his power, God is happy to show mercy to the small, insignificant and imperfect people that we are. People give honour and glory to what appears to be powerful and wealthy in this world. God does exactly the opposite. God looks at humanity with love and mercy, which is what the story of Christmas is all about.

God turns the value scales upside down and shows his love for the small, the humble and the seemingly insignificant. We need to examine our hearts as we prepare for Christmas so we can eliminate all thoughts of pride and any spirit of materialism because, in reality, whether we are princes or paupers – or the General of The Salvation Army – we are pretty insignificant!

Christmas is about the fact that God came specifically to establish a relationship with us, and his glory is manifested in the lives of ordinary humble people. Christmas is a time of great joy and peace for all mankind.

I pray that we will experience the wonder of that reality in our lives this Christmas time and that we will show it wherever we are!

5 Easy Ways To Support The Salvation Army This Black Friday

Black Friday is a big day for shoppers. Let’s make it a big day for helping our community as well!

Here are 5 easy ways to support The Salvation Army this Black Friday.

1. Shop At Our Family Stores

When you shop at a Salvation Army Family Store, you’re transforming lives. The Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Centers are funded by donations, and when you shop you’re providing spiritual, social and emotional assistance for men and women who have lost the ability to cope with their problems and provide for themselves.

Each center offers residential housing, work, and group and individual therapy, all in a clean, wholesome environment. The physical and spiritual care that program participants receive prepares them to re-enter society and return to gainful employment. Many of those who have been rehabilitated are reunited with their families and resume a normal life.

2. Shop Online With AmazonSmile

AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.

Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Salvation Army Metro Divison whenever you shop on AmazonSmile.

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages.

3. Put Your Money In Our Red Kettles When You’re Out Shopping

When you give money to The Salvation Army Red Kettles, you’re helping to combat homelessness, hunger and drug addiction in your community. Money raised locally stays local.

4. Share Your #RedKettleReason When You Give

The Salvation Army is celebrating the many reasons that motivate you to give. We call them Red Kettle Reasons and they represent all of the different thoughts and experiences that cause you to give so generously each year.

We're starting a photo album for everyone sharing their #RedKettleReason and ringing bells for their communities this…

Posted by The Salvation Army Chicago Metropolitan Division on Friday, November 13, 2015

Please share your reasons on social media by adding #RedKettleReasonChicago to all of your social media messages on places like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

5. Register to Ring

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, which means it’s also the biggest day of the year for our Red Kettles.

When you volunteer to ring a bell at a Salvation Army Red Kettle this year 82 cents out of every dollar raised goes directly to services in your community.

Our registertoring.com website allows you to search for shifts in your community. Sign-up is easy and takes only a few minutes.

BONUS

In all the hustle and bustle over Black Friday, let’s not forget about Giving Tuesday!

Just $65 will help provide a basket of food, gifts, and vital help for a family in need. For those facing a Christmas with only hunger and heartache, your gift will deliver a healthy meal and holiday joy.

On Giving Tuesday donate here.

The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program provides a happy holiday

Christmas is a time of joy and wonder. Holiday cards and songs extoll the beauty of the season with snow on the ground, twinkly lights, concerts, and an abundance of good wishes from friends and strangers alike.

But for some, the holidays are not so joyous. Edyta Grambrone and her family found themselves with nothing when the family’s construction company and restaurant failed in the aftermath of the economic downturn. The family, a fervent supporter of The Salvation Army and other charities, was now forced to turn to others for help with basic necessities.

In October 2012, Edyta visited the Norridge Community Corps to inquire about the food pantry program. After meeting with the staff members and sharing her story, she was told that not only would her family be eligible for the food pantry program, but they would also receive a holiday meal basket with a ham and all the sides.

Additionally, Edyta and her husband would have the opportunity to shop at The Salvation Army for gifts for their children. For the first time in two years, there would be a holiday meal and presents under the tree. There would be a happy holiday in their home.

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“I was so overwhelmed with the kindness and understanding,” Edyta said. “And it was such a blessing to be able to give my children Christmas gifts again. My daughter finally got the new doll she had been asking for. I couldn’t have done it without The Salvation Army.”

The Salvation Army continues to support Edyta’s family as they work to get back on their feet. “I am so grateful for the help,” she said. “I can’t wait until I have the opportunity to repay the generosity and help someone else.”

Register to help make a child’s Christmas memorable through the Angel Tree program.

To receive emergency holiday assistance in the greater Chicago area, please call 773-205-3574 or email USCMET_Angeltree@usc.salvationarmy.org.

Chicago Staff Band Thanksgiving Concert 2015

Join The Salvation Army Nov. 28 for the Chicago Staff Band Thanksgiving Concert with trombone soloist Paul Woodward.

For FREE tickets contact The Salvation Army Music Dept. at 847-294-2134 or online at www.chicagostaffband.org.

The Chicago Staff Band Thanksgiving Concert will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28, at the Edman Chapel in Wheaton, Ill.

This concert will be recorded. Pre-school children not admitted.

About Paul Woodward

Paul Woodward comes from four generations of trombonists, having been first introduced to the instrument at the age of 7 by his father.

He grew up in Yorkshire, England, where he played in Salvation Army bands from youth to adulthood. In 2003 Paul joined the famous Black DykeBand and in 2004 for the first time in the band’s history, was appointed the Co-Principal Trombone. He is in constant international demand as a soloist and trombone tutor.

Chicago Staff Band Thanksgiving Concert 2014

Watch the full 2014 concert below.

The Salvation Army Kicks Off 2015 Christmas Campaign with Legendary Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka

CHICAGO, IL (November 11, 2015) – On Friday, November 13, The Salvation Army will officially kick off its 2015 Christmas campaign with the iconic red kettles hitting the Chicagoland streets.

The 2015 Christmas campaign’s goal is to raise $17 million. The Salvation Army receives nearly 70 percent of its yearly donations during the campaign. The funds are used not only to support local holiday programs and services, but also to help it serve those in need throughout the entire year.

Mike Ditka, Pro Football Hall of Famer, Super Bowl-winning coach and Chicago Bears head coach (1982-1992), will serve as The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division’s 2015 Christmas campaign honorary chairperson.

“I have always had the utmost respect for The Salvation Army and the work that it does throughout Chicagoland, across the country and around the world,” said Ditka. “I am honored to serve as this year’s chair and look forward to helping raise awareness of the tremendous work of The Salvation Army – a team that’s ‘Doing the Most Good,’ right here in our hometown.”

Last year during the holiday season, The Salvation Army served more than 105,000 people in the Chicago area, distributing more than 16,000 food baskets, 42,000 articles of clothing and 131,000 toys. 

Throughout the year, Christmas funds helped The Salvation Army’s Metropolitan Division provide a wide variety of services, including:

  • 1.4 million meals to the hungry
  • shelter for more than 200 families at the Evangeline Booth Lodge
  • emergency rent, mortgage, clothing or utility assistance to 140,000 people in crisis
  • 24,700 days worth of child care to low-income children

“For the past 130 years, The Salvation Army has been serving people in need in the Chicagoland area thanks to the generosity of our fellow Chicagoans,” said Lt. Colonel Charles Smith, Divisional Commander. “We are so thankful to Mike Ditka for helping us raise awareness and encourage much-needed donations to the red kettles that allow us to continue helping Chicago’s most vulnerable. I hope people will find it in their hearts to support our efforts, and we invite them to share their reasons for giving with the hashtag #RedKettleReason.”

The iconic red kettles will be on the streets through December 24. For those wishing to volunteer as bell ringers, The Salvation Army has launched the Register To Ring program that makes it easier than ever: Prospective volunteers can go to RegisterToRing.com and choose the locations, dates and times.

The Christmas campaign will continue online at salarmychicago.org through January 31, 2016, where donors can host their own online red kettle. In addition, donations may be made by texting ChicagoKettle to the number 71777. Yet another way to donate is by buying a toy or gift for a child in need through the new virtual Angel Tree program at chicagometro.theangelgivingtree.org.

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About The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division
In 2015, The Salvation Army is celebrating its 150th worldwide anniversary and 130 years of service in Chicagoland. As one of the largest direct providers of social services in the state of Illinois, The Salvation Army operates more than 25 corps community centers, as well as other facilities in neighborhoods across the greater Chicago area, offering shelter, meals, child care, disaster relief, after-school programs, recreational activities, music education and more.

About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, established in London in 1865, has been supporting people in need for more than 130 years in the United States. Approximately 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through a range of social services: food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar donated to The Salvation Army is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. The Salvation Army tracks the level of need across the country with the Human Needs Index (HumanNeedsIndex.org). For more information, go to salvationarmyusa.org or follow on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS.