By Eric Butler
Editor’s note: This is the 14th in a series of United Way agency profiles scheduled for publication each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday through Nov. 21.
When local Salvation Army director Hector Diaz says he already has 400 families signed up to receive holiday meal boxes this year, what comes next isn’t really expected.
“I would like to register more. We will provide a box with everything the family needs for a whole meal and a toy for each child in the family,” Diaz said. “We already have 400, but everything we raise goes back to the community, so I would like to raise more money this year.”
The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for the Salvation Army, as well as the period where its visibility is most obvious — with volunteers stationed outside many retail businesses hoping for contributions.
But the Salvation Army’s mission goes far beyond that of just being a seasonal one.
“We provide a lot of services. Like, right now, we help people pay their gas bills,” Diaz said. “We work together with PNM. We also provide food, clothing, furniture — if somebody needs help and doesn’t have a place, we provide a place to stay for one night or two nights.”
Diaz said the Salvation Army provides local police officers with vouchers that can be used at local hotels.
That way, if an officer finds someone without lodging, the person in need can be directed to a room at the expense of the Salvation Army.
“The Salvation Army is a big part in the network of service. Other agencies, when they get families and individuals that need items, they send them over to the Salvation Army with a voucher,” said Erinn Burch, director of the Curry County United Way. “It’s just an example of how our agencies work together.
“Instead of the Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence having to get a warehouse to store clothing for people who have been thrown out of their house in the middle of the night, they are able to use the Salvation Army as a resource,” Burch said.
The Salvation Army also helps provide those in need of costly prescription drugs with an additional way to pay for their medical treatment.
Though the organization receives money from the United Way and through other grants, bell-ringing volunteers for the Salvation Army annually bring in a significant portion of the group’s funds.
Last year, about $23,000 was raised through holiday fund-raising efforts.
The Salvation Army
Where: 317 E. Second St., Clovis.
Phone number: 762-3801
Mission: To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in his name without discrimination.
Estimated annual budget: $291,000
Amount contributed by Curry County United Way: 10 percent.