For most of his life, Jim just wanted to make a difference in the world.
As a child, Jim’s parents took time to explain how giving to The Salvation Army’s Red Kettles meant that people who needed help the most would receive it. Every Christmas season he would remember these lessons and was sure to put money in the kettles when he could. The need was brought closer to home when his brother became homeless and required help from The Salvation Army to get back on his feet.
Around that same time, Jim had taken a new job as a truck driver and began hauling food to all corners of the United States. He enjoyed the travel but became frustrated when, for whatever reason, the customer did not accept the delivery. Because of the expense in transporting an unwanted load back to a warehouse, the company simply wanted Jim to dispose of the food. He still remembers the first time he realized he could make a big difference.
“The first thing I donated to The Salvation Army was 500 pounds of chicken breast. The company didn’t want to pay to bring it back so they said I could just get rid of it. The Salvation Army just stood out in my mind and I loved knowing that I could help people.”
As long as Jim was driving, this scene repeated itself every time a customer failed to accept a delivery. Jim would call the local office of The Salvation Army and arrange to deliver the food where it was needed. Over the years, Jim has provided tons of food for the individuals and families most in need.
However, after losing his job, Jim began to experience his own difficulties that eventually exhausted his resources and left him without a place to live. He spent a number of weeks living in his car, until the coldest night of the year made him realize he needed help. It was New Year’s Day when he arrived at the shelter.
“I started my year off right at The Salvation Army,” Jim smiles as he recalls that day, “And I built everything from there.”
A short stay at the shelter enabled Jim to get back on his feet. He made lifelong friends during his stay and even helped them by driving them from the shelter to various job sites. Jim was able to quickly reestablish himself and wanted to do what he could to give back to people who had become like family. Just a few months after leaving the shelter, he went back to serve. This time he brought a group of young people from a church he had recently started attending. The kids were able to give back in a powerful way that will impact them for years to come, much like the way learning about The Salvation Army had an impact on Jim. Today, he continues to give back and to help people who find themselves in situations similar to his.
“I was very fortunate.” Jim says, knowingly, “But there are a lot of people who have been a lot less fortunate than I was – who are still in the predicament and those are the people I want to reach.”