Gaithers moved by Army's work
on Gulf coast
Commissioners Israel and Eva
Gaither, Salvation Army national leaders, recently spent two days touring New
Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast learning how The Salvation Army is
"Doing The Most Good" in responding to the long-term needs of
Hurricane Katrina survivors.
The National Commander
addressed employees and officers, many of whom are survivors of Katrina, at the
Disaster Recovery Center in New Orleans where the Army continues to serve 600
cases per day. Gaither explained that he and his wife had been in 50 countries
in the past three years and had not been more moved than they were while they
toured recovering communities and Salvation Army disaster recovery centers in
Biloxi and Pass Christian, Miss., and New Orleans, assisting communities in
their recovery efforts.
The Gaithers were not on a "PR
trip, but an encouragement trip" he said. "Thank you for what you are
doing, do not tire in doing the most good - you cannot give up." Quoting
Galatians 6:9, Gaither addressed the temptation to give up or slow down because
"we will one day reap if we do not lose heart."
went on to say, "Doing the most good is not a substitute for our faith, it
does not cleanse us from sin, and it is no substitute for knowing Christ. It is
for the mission, the evidence of who we are and what we believe," he said.
"Doing the most good is proof of our life of faith; this is why it is
important to us."
Service through The Salvation Army
has influences that impact more than today. The influence we wield is
"more than being ‘do-gooders'... our service impacts
tomorrow," he said.
Recalling the song sung by the
Disaster Center Employee Choir, Gaither said in closing, "The mission of
the Army is embedded in America as never before and we will praise Him for the
rest of our days and lift our hands to give God the glory in all we do,"
he said. "You are heroes."
Houston boy's concern results in help for city's homeless
Stephen Smith, 7, is the first recipient of the
Eliza Shirley Youth Achievement Award presented by the Salvation Army's
Houston Advisory Board. The award was given to Stephen for his ongoing efforts
to raise money for Christmas gifts for homeless people he saw living under
He was just 4 when he saw people living under
highway bridges in downtown Houston that December. The sight of several
children staying there as well was almost too much for Stephen to bear. He
asked his mom, Kathryn, why those people were there and if they were going to
have anything for Christmas.
As soon they got home, Stephen
began looking for money, spare change around the house. He collected over $30
and set out to divide it evenly into several plastic bags. The next morning he
and his parents returned to the city and hand-delivered the small monetary
"Most of them said ‘thank you' or
‘God bless you,'" Stephen said. "But then I wanted to do
He planned a Christmas party and invited vfamily
members, friends and schoolmates to come. The only admission was a toy for
homeless children, or a gift for a homeless adult. The only thing left to work
out was how best to distribute the gifts.
"That's when he
spotted a Salvation Army billboard and asked us about that," said
Stephen's dad, Jeff. "We told him that The Salvation Army helped a lot
of people. He also saw a Salvation Army volunteer ringing a bell at a kettle
"Then that's who we'll give the
gifts to - they will make sure the gifts will be given to lots of homeless
people," Stephen decided.
Since then, the Christmas
party has become a family tradition and has grown. The party last Christmas
season brought in 350 toys, about $2,500 in cash and hundreds of canned food
"Stephen is a remarkable young man," said
Major John R. Jones, Houston area commander. "When I heard that his heart
went out at the sight of families living under bridges at Christmas time, it
reminded me of when the Founder saw men under bridges in London nearly 140
years ago, and said to his son Bramwell: ‘Do something!'"
In a way, history repeats itself - except that Stephen took it
upon himself to do something despite his young age, Jones said.