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Salvation Army in need of volunteers

Without significant community response, the Washington branch of the Salvation Army may have to close both retail stores in the county. 

“We currently have a severe labor shortage primarily in the processing of our donations. We just need time. People were extremely generous during our Christmas campaign and we had an unbelievable response from the community. Donations are great for us but ideally, any non-profit wants to have a steady revenue stream and that’s what the thrift stores do for us,” said Advisory board member Heidi Jernigan Smith. “We have no lack of donations of things coming in. It’s just that we don’t have the labor to process these donations. The vast majority of these donations we need processed are clothes so we’re primarily looking for groups or individuals that are willing to come in and sort through clothing to determine what is suitable for resale.”

For those interested in volunteering once, no paperwork is required. If planning on volunteering multiple times, a volunteer application must be completed and approved by the local Advisory Board in addition to the volunteer candidate passing a background check. Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older, and volunteers ages 16 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult. At this time, background checks for potential volunteers are being covered by the Advisory board at no cost for the applicant. For more information about volunteering, contact the Salvation Army office at 252-946-2523.

“Like everyone else, we were impacted by the pandemic but it really goes beyond that. In 2020, we did reduce the number of days that we were open and we reduced the operating hours on the remaining days. Even with those reductions the stores continued to provide a positive revenue stream. Without stocked shelves and full clothing racks, that will change,” Smith said. “All these programs are very important to supporting our core work, which is social services. We handle on average 155 social service cases per month out of the Washington Corps. People know the special events or the things that kind of steal the headlines but there are crisis events that happen every day that are impacting one household at a time.” 

Donations and funds raised through both retail stores in Beaufort County benefit those in need residing in Beaufort, Hyde, Washington, Tyrell, Bertie and Martin counties. At least one store will close in late August if volunteerism does not increase by the end of July. 

“We have faith in the community. We’ve been here for 84 years,” Smith said. “The Salvation Army is on the front lines for so many things and even people who haven’t relied on us for support understand the infrastructure and our importance to the community.”