Salvation Army, Good Samaritan Ministries depleting resources in COVID-19 response

Sue Guinn Legg • Apr 5, 2020 at 9:15 AM

Two of the community’s biggest “boots on the ground” in the provision of food and social services for people impacted by the COVID-19 shutdown are doubling down on their efforts. 

And they’re depleting their resources, bracing for what they anticipate will be an even larger need in the month ahead.

At Good Samaritan Ministries and the Johnson City Salvation Army, calls for assistance have increased significantly over the past month and are continuing to tick upward.

At Good Samaritan Ministries, which began delivering food boxes to the homes of isolated seniors, families with children and people who have lost jobs three weeks ago, food distributions have tripled.

For the month of March, Executive Director Aaron Murphy said Good Samaritan delivered 424 food boxes large enough to feed a family of four for up to three weeks, and is continuing to deliver hundreds of food boxes daily.

The ministry has also seen an increase in the number of meals it provides for The Melting Pot emergency dining room at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, up to more than 3,800 meals in March

At the same time, Murphy said, monetary donations are low and contributions to the ministry’s COVID-19 response are spent as quickly as they come in.

At the Salvation Army, corps commander Lt. Antwann Yocum said there has also been an increase in meals-to-go now being served from its emergency kitchen, up to about 150 evening meals daily for the public and three meals a day for about 20 men and women in its transitional and emergency shelter programs.

Requests for social services including assistance with rent and utilities are up at both ministries

Yocum, who is leading a task force of Johnson City social service agencies that are working together to coordinate their COVID-19 response, said that need is expected to grow as people who lost jobs but managed to meet their bills in March fall behind in April and May.

Adding to the challenge, the Salvation Army Thrift Store, which provides a large percentage of its revenues, has been closed by the COVID-19 shutdown. Volunteer operations have all but stopped at both ministries to guard against the spread of the virus, and the need for extra cleaning supplies, disinfectants, masks and gloves to protect staff members and shelter residents is adding to expenses.

Addressing the need for more community support for their operations, Murray said, “We are trying to stay ahead of the game. We don’t know what tomorrow holds but we are trusting the Lord to move the hearts of our loving community.”

The ministries are in need monetary donations, nonperishable food items, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, hand sanitizer and personal protection equipment, including masks and gloves.

Good Samaritan Ministries has set up a drive-through drop-off center for donations on the King Street side of its building at 100 N. Roan St. Monetary donations to help the ministry can be made online at goodsamjc.org, by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City TN 37605, or by texting “Give” to 833-224-6131.

The Salvation Army is accepting drop-off donations of nonperishable food, cleaning supplies and personal protection items outside its office at 204 W Walnut St., Johnson City TN 37604 St. Those who wish to drop off donations are asked to call the office at 423-926-2101 to arrange for someone to meet them in the parking area. Monetary donations can be made by mail to the office or online at give.salvationarmykentuckyandtennessee.org.

Lists of the ministries’ most needed items can be found on their Facebook pages.

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