Everyone is familiar with the Salvation Army’s bell ringers, who raise money during the holiday season to help the poor. In addition, funding from Mesa United Way helps support the Mesa Citadel Corps’ recreation, education and music programs for children, as well as its emergency food pantry.
The local Corps provides a growing array of services, from emergency food boxes to church services, for people of all ages and circumstances. Its 5-year-old Community Family Service Center is among the many local assistance agencies supported by Mesa United Way through its ongoing pledge campaign.
Last week the campaign reached one-third of its $2,825,000 goal for the 2012-13 season, with $944,868 in donations and pledges collected. Meeting the goal will allow Mesa United Way to help the Salvation Army and its other partner agencies keep pace with growing needs.
The Mesa Citadel Corps currently provides emergency food boxes to around 400 families every week, said Corps Officer Major Candi Frizzell. Thousands of pounds of donated foods are sorted and boxed by dozens of volunteers at the Corps’ food pantry at 241 E. Sixth St., and distributed to individuals and families who meet the eligibility requirements, she said.
In addition, Corps staff and volunteers prepare and serve about 40 hot meals a day to residents of the nearby Silvercrest senior housing complex, which is owned and operated by the national Salvation Army headquarters. Residents pay a nominal fee of $1 per meal.
Frizzell said evening meals are also provided for the 17 elementary-age children enrolled in the Family Service Center’s youth recreation and education program. The program is growing, with a capacity for 30 youngsters. The fee for the youth program is $10 a month but no child is turned away due to inability to pay, she said.
Children play games and musical instruments, work on computers and earn badges for their accomplishments. “It’s similar to scouting in that respect,” Frizzell said. “Music is also a big part of the program. Whatever they get involved in, they learn the importance of commitment.”
The Mesa Citadel Chapel also attracts a sizable congregation for religious services every Sunday.
For more information on the Salvation Army Mesa Citadel Corps, visit www.mesacitadel.org online or call (480) 962-9103.
To learn more about the Mesa United Way and how you can donate to the 2012-13 campaign, visit www.mesaunitedway.org online or call (480) 969-8601.
•Bob Schuster is a retired journalist and volunteer publicist for Mesa United Way.