ALTON - Temperatures might have cooled this week, but the Salvation Army branch in Alton will operate as a cooling center if they spike again.
The Salvation Army, located at 525 Alby Street, has several programs for community members. Captain Cassy Grey explained that the building remains open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when temperatures are above 85 degrees, so people can cool off. When temperatures are below 85, people are still welcome to stop by for the Army’s programs or to be connected with services.
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“People will just come in and out because we have so many programs during the week,” Grey said. “We’re so grateful and blessed by this community…We all need to come together to take care of each other. And we’re so blessed by this community and how the community has blessed the Salvation Army, [so] we’re able to bless others.”
Every Monday, the Army partners with Little Caesar’s for a “pizza ministry” from 11 a.m. to noon. Community members can come in for a free meal and take additional pizza with them.
From 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, the Army hosts a free shop so that people can grab groceries or other household supplies donated by Target, Schnucks and Dollar General. Grey added that other stores donate food and supplies so that the Army can offer this service throughout the week.
“The reality is, the inflation is hurting everybody. Everybody’s feeling it,” Grey said. “So we are just truly blown away by the wraparound of this community, seeing their friends and neighbors and being willing to partner with us so that we can help get these items into the hands that could use it.”
The Salvation Army also sponsors an afterschool program during the school year. Students can play console games, hang out in the gym or do homework from 2:45–6 p.m. Youth Director Adam Thiel has also organized an archery program this summer, so kids will be able to learn archery. To enroll your student or to volunteer with the afterschool program, Grey encourages people to email Thiel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The more volunteers that we have for the afterschool program, the more kids we can take in,” Grey added.
The Salvation Army has several additional programs, including a food pantry and resources for unhoused folks. They are also looking for volunteers, especially as they begin preparing for Christmas in October.
Grey attributes the Alton branch’s success to “Jesus and coffee and the incredible people that we work with.” She hopes that they can continue to help people in the Alton community, and she thanks the people who have volunteered throughout the years.
“When people walk in the doors, we want them to know that they feel seen, that they are loved, that they are cared for and that we want to help give them a hand up to hope,” Grey said. “The Salvation Army mission statement, in a nutshell, is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ while meeting human need in His name without discrimination, and to grow faith, to help people grow in their relationship with Jesus…[We] have been so blessed to watch and be able to participate and be able to receive from this community that loves and sees each other. That isn’t everywhere.”
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