Salvation Army volunteers offer assistance year-round

ELKINS – If you listen closely, you can hear bells ringing as you go to Kroger, Wal-Mart and Kmart in Elkins and Belington Shop n Save. It is the familiar bell-ringing of those with the red kettles helping collect money for the Salvation Army.

At the local Salvation Army office, located at 203 Randolph Ave. in Elkins, volunteers Beverly Dawn Hammer, Laura Hedrick, Dixie Martin and Rebecca Gower work to get presents ready for those who appear on this year’s Angel Tree.

The names of boys and girls on the list number almost 150 this year, children who might not receive a present if not for the

generosity of those donating to help make Christmas bright for others.

Gower, the office’s social service director, said she enjoys working for the Salvation Army.

“I am thankful that God has given me a compassionate heart and a love for others,” Gowers said. “I was actually the social service secretary in our Grafton office for five years but resigned that position because I could not justify answering a phone that rang twice a day just to tell them we didn’t have funds to help them.

“I have faith and believe in my heart that God will provide for us and I felt it was the right thing to do. I still volunteer there as well as in the service unit in Elkins. It is truly a blessing and warms my heart to see the difference I can make in someone’s life by giving them hope during their hardship. I want to show others that I care for them.”

Bonnie Wilfong and Pauline Gower traveled to Elkins for many years to man the office in Elkins on Tuesdays. Both women, who are more than 80 years old each, have retired because of health reasons.

Rebecca Gower said in addition to the 150 Angel tree recipients, the group will put together nearly 60 Christmas food baskets to give to local families so they have a good meal on Christmas.

The Salvation Army in Elkins helps residents throughout the year.

“We have a food pantry and we help others pay for prescription medicines, utilities and gasoline,” Rebecca Gower said. “We also put people up who have been burned out of their homes, and (also) transients passing through the area that do not have money for a hotel.”

During Thanksgiving, the Salvation Army made and distributed more than 50 food baskets. They also collect and distribute school supplies each year before school starts. They visit residents at Colonial Place and other nursing homes, and they distribute personal care items to the students at the Elkins Mountain School.

Rebecca Gower said the group offers summer camps at its church camp for residents of Randolph, Barbour and Taylor counties.

“We also handle disaster work like (Superstorm) Sandy last year where we use our canteen to provide food and drinks,” Rebecca Gower said. “We even loaded our grill up last October and grilled hotdogs and chili for residents during that storm.”

Martin said she began volunteering with the Salvation Army 17 years ago.

“I started bringing in clothing that my family and friends did not want and need and started helping out,” Martin said. “Now I am a full-fledged volunteer. I got my sister involved with volunteering when she moved back to town.”

Hammer, who is Martin’s sister, said she likes volunteering for the Salvation Army because she gets to meet new people and help them.

“I also help gather food donations from Elkins Big Lots,” Hammer said.

The Elkins Salvation Army is open Tuesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Additional information about is available by calling 304-637-1173.