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Monday, Jul 14 2014 04:01 PM

Salvation Army seeking donations for Back to School drive

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(From left) Center Director Marget Willer, Mickey Crank, volunteer, Michal Knowles, community center coordinator, and Johnny Medina, intern, are heading up the team for the Salvation Army's Back To School drive, to be held Aug. 7. The team is standing in front of a picture taken by Sarah Willer which symbolizes the organization's volunteer efforts.

The Salvation Army is spearheading its Back to School Drive by collecting gently-used and new clothing for school age children.

"We have 429 children that have applied for assistance , and we are still accepting applications all the way until the day of the give away," said Marget Willer, center director for the past 15 years.

"We are accepting clothing for children age kindergarten through 12th grade, however our biggest need if for children age kindergarten through 6th grade," said Willer.

Donations can be made at the Salvation Army, located at 538 E. Tehachapi Blvd., or at a collection box located at Albertsons.

"We are also seeking monetary donations to sponsor children for new school shoes," said Willer. "You can sponsor a child for $20 to help us get them a voucher at Kmart for a new pair of shoes."

The distribution day for the Back to School drive will be held on Thursday, Aug. 7, from 10 a.m. to noon.

"Every year we spend about $10k on our Back to School program alone," said Willer.

Families in need of assistance are asked to apply at the Salvation Army prior to that day to receive an admission ticket for the event. Each child may receive two outfits of clothing, a new backpack filled with school supplies, a voucher for a new pair of school shoes, free haircut and free immunization referral to the County Health Department.

Other services offered at the Salvation Army include the following:

* Fresh Rescue Food Program -- Available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Dependent on delivery, food will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, as available, of produce, breads, deli and dairy. Local businesses that assist with the Fresh Rescue Food Program include Albertsons, Save Mart, Starbucks and Kohnens Country Bakery.

* Emergency food assistance -- The emergency food pantry is stocked but private donations, including assistance from the Boy Scouts, Curves, the Tehachapi Post Office and Protech, among others. For this program walk in appointments to provide emergency food and groceries are accepted.

* Motel assistance -- Once per year for people who have real need, such as out-of-town visitors who break down, etc.

* Holiday food baskets -- Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets are distributed each year to eligible families, the elderly and shut-ins. Volunteers and staff work on putting together food boxes and baskets that will be filled with items used to create a holiday meal.

* Utility bill assistance -- Utility and energy bill assistance is through the R.E.A.C.H. program. The program was created to provide financial support and guidance to residents who are behind in their utility payments and are in danger of being shut off. Applicants must meet conditions set by the California R.E.A.C.H. program.

The Salvation Army focuses its resources on people who are faced with an emergency, economic struggles, and immense financial hardships. The goal of the Salvation Army is to provide hope and short term support amidst the struggle, while working with the individual for more longer term self-sufficiency. Emergency programs are offered for all qualified members of the community.

Monetary donations of any size are always welcome, as the Salvation Army relies heavily on donations for its day-to-day operation. For more information on how to make a donation or to apply for assistance to any of the programs offered at the local Salvation Army, call 823-9508.

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