Aiken Salvation Army thanks volunteers during dinner
During the Salvation Army of Aiken’s Annual Meeting and Appreciation Dinner on Thursday night at the First Presbyterian Church, Capt. Amber Phelps provided some statistics and other information about the organization’s activities.
She talked about the Salvation Army’s shelter, church and Boys & Girls Club.
“In a year, we serve close to 4,000 people,” said Phelps, who described Aiken as “one of the most generous communities” she has ever known.
The Salvation Army provides around 2,500 free meals each month and more than 14,000 free toys and other gifts at Christmas.
But the main reason for the dinner was because the Salvation Army wanted to express its gratitude for the assistance it has received in carrying out its various missions.
“This is our way of saying thank you to the volunteers, advisory board members and civic groups that have helped us,” said Maj. David Phelps, who is Amber’s husband. “Without them, our resources and what we do in the community would be very limited.”
The Salvation Army recognized the Rotary Club of Aiken for its work during the 2016 Red Kettle Campaign with an award called “The Big Bell” because of the large amount of money the club raised.
Rotary Club members have been ringing bells for the Salvation Army for more than 20 years, and winning “The Big Bell” is something that has become routine for them.
Last year, “well over” 100 Rotarians participated in the club’s Red Kettle effort that took place on a Friday in December, and their enthusiasm brought in nearly $8,000 in donations, according to Ralph Courtney, who is charge of the club’s bell ringers.
“One of our big things, as Rotarians, is helping the community, and we believe in the work of the Salvation Army,” Courtney said. “We want to do what we can to make the community a better place for all people.”
The Town & Country Club also received a bell-ringing award.
“They raised the most money among the smaller clubs, around $900,” David Phelps said.
He also announced the Salvation Army’s intent to honor Sean Hutt with the “Others” Award, which recognizes extraordinary and exceptional service that benefits those in need, the Salvation Army and/or the community.
Late in 2016, when the Salvation Army was having trouble finding suitable warehouse space for the toys it distributes at Christmas, the Matrix Realty Group offered the use of a building on Aiken’s Southside for free.
Hutt was the man who made that happen, according to David Phelps, who called the Matrix maintenance supervisor “the angel who saved Christmas” because “we really were in a crisis.”
Hutt was unable to attend the Annual Meeting and Appreciation Dinner, so the Phelpses will arrange to deliver the award to him later.
The evening’s keynote speaker was Maj. Pete Costas, area commander for the Salvation Army of Greenville, Pickens and Oconee counties.
“Without volunteers we’re just a Salvation Brigade,” he said. “With volunteers, we’re the Salvation Army.”