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From Camper to Staff to Employee

Summer camp was my escape, my first taste of freedom, my safe haven. Without going into too many details of my past, I will simply say my childhood wasn’t princesses and fairytales. My dad had many demons in his life that rocked a marriage and eventually caused the downfall of a household. That is when a Salvation Army van pulled into my neighborhood.

Send a Kid to Camp

As a child, I would attend camp for a couple weeks at a time. When I was in high school, I would literally travel across the country to work at camp. Even during college, I would spend my summers as a camp counselor playing games, eating less-than-haute cuisine, and helping kids to not feel homesick. Early in my career, I even had the opportunity to organize and lead camping programs.

Terri's Story

When she was just fifteen, Terri escaped from a violently abusive household. Because of her pain and trauma, she became addicted to drugs and found herself living in her car in an abandoned lot when an officer from The Salvation Army found her.

Karl's Story

"At age ten, I was an alcoholic. When I was fifteen I got alcohol poisoning and that’s when I started using drugs. It went for years with the drug abuse and it scaled from marijuana to cocaine and to different narcotic pills. I was arrested in Michigan in the middle of nowhere and I lived in Florida - 2,000 miles apart.” Karl’s story opens like something you might hear in a movie. “I did some stuff that I should have gone to prison for.”

Anita's Story

“When I got to The Salvation Army, I was broken.” As she recalls a more difficult time, Anita’s face shows that she is experiencing a whirlwind of emotion. “I was broken spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically. I just didn’t want to continue on.”

Marvin's Story

Marvin knows that he was not the sort of person that could be trusted. He had an incredibly dark past. For 30 years he was a drug dealer, an addict and worse. He would stay high for days at a time and was often in trouble with the law. Still, during a time of incarceration, he knew that something had to change.

David's Story

Now a medical doctor with a successful practice, David doesn’t actually remember the first time The Salvation Army impacted his life and the lives of his three older brothers. His mother recalls that when David was just eight months old, some people from The Salvation Army adopted their family for Christmas. Already struggling to make ends meet, life became even more difficult for David’s family when his father passed away a short time later. For many families, such significant challenges are simply impossible to overcome.

Jim's Story

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.

Moving Forward Together

Throughout this year we met some of the people who were incredibly willing to give back. Marvin turned from a life of selling drugs to mentoring young people within The Salvation Army. Melani's addictions took everything from her until she was able to get back on her feet. Now she works helping provide assistance to other's who were in situations much like her's. Naomi is a high school student who has worked at summer camps operated by The Salvation Army and helped her church find and sponsor a child living overseas.

April's Story

Like most parents, April’s one wish for the holidays was to be able to provide for her children – warm food on the table and a few presents under the tree. Many of us take this for granted. Finding herself without a home during the holidays, however, April realized that it would take a Christmas miracle for her wish to come true.

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