Statistics Canada confirms that there are more than one million individuals and more than three-quarters of a million families below the poverty line. People who, despite government social safety net programs, have limited financial resources left for food and other basic necessities after the rent has been paid, have little option but to turn to charitable agencies such as The Salvation Army for assistance.
One young woman who came to the Army for help had just left a shelter for women suffering domestic violence. Depressed and alone in the world, she spoke of 10 years spent with an abusive husband, whose beatings often left her in the hospital. She told the Salvation Army counsellor how hard it was for her to move out. It meant finding a place to live, and enough food for her and her 7-year old son. She spoke of trying to find a job, but it was all too evident that without assistance to provide the necessities of life for herself and her son, this would be impossible. Thanks to the generosity of a local store, she was able to choose some new clothes for herself and her son. The Salvation Army provided her with a supply of groceries, and made arrangements for her to obtain furniture through the Army’s Thrift store. As she left the family services office, the look on her face said it all. She’ll be the first to admit that she’s not out of the woods yet, but it’s a step in the right direction, and a start towards restoring her self-confidence and giving her some hope for the future.
Everyone knows how The Salvation Army brightens Christmas for thousands of families by providing food and toys for the children. Few, however, know that The Salvation Army’s 254 family service centres and Thrift stores assisted more than one million Canadians last year, offering friendly counsel, food, rent, transportation, clothing and furniture, to a total value of approximately $20 million.
Sadly, some people find the burden of their lives too much. Their despair and loneliness makes it seem that suicide is the only way out. For some it is a cry for help; for others, an end to an unbearable pain. Last year, trained Salvation Army suicide prevention personnel shared the suffering of more than 3,500 such individuals. The officers and volunteers who perform this compassionate work have their own special reward in knowing that someone in great need has been helped, and, perhaps, a life saved.