Springfield, MA (June 9, 2011) As our emergency vehicles continue to roam the streets of the still devastated areas of Springfield, we are never quite sure what we will find from one day to the next. Tonight we were reminded of the immediate needs that are still as evident as the first night the tornadoes struck the town. One of our mobile feeding units pulled up to an area that we had not been to before. After seeing a large number of people still wandering the streets we decided to stop and start to offer hot food and drinks. An 8 yr. old walked up to the canteen and started thanking our volunteers over and over again. It almost seemed strange that this young boy kept repeating how grateful he was that The Salvation Army was there. The boy said to one of the volunteers 'This is the happiest day of my life'. When the worker asked 'why?' the young boy said 'because I have food'.
This is what Paul Harvey termed the "rest of the story". That very thankful boy and his mother took their hamburger dinners inside their damaged home. After a little while the boy came out again. We had run out of hamburgers and started to distribute cold sandwiches. I gave the boy six sandwiches to take to school for the next few days and he brought them inside. Then when the sandwiches were gone we started to distribute Bibles. The boy's mother came out and immediately requested a Bible then the neighbors started taking Bibles. In that little neighborhood we gave out the last 10 Bibles we had. We left that broken neighborhood feeling that we had distributed a little "short- term cheer" in the form of food and water to meet their immediate needs and a lot of "long-term hope" in the form of the Word of God.
At the end of a long hot 15 hour day we were exhausted but well comforted by the Biblical promise that the Word of God never returns void, that it is alive, active, and powerful. We know that God's word will speak to those folks in that Springfield neighborhood the very words they need to hear in each of the days ahead equipping them to endure the formidable trials ahead of them.
This war torn area still cries out for help from The Salvation Army and we are there throughout the day from breakfast through dinner providing hot meals, hydration, groceries, bibles, and tangible love to these hurting people. The people receiving these services have regularly said 'We love you Salvation Army' and 'We thought we were forgotten here'. Even 5 days after the storm left its wake of devastation, The Salvation Army is still finding those who have not been able to begin to rebuild their lives. We will be here for them day after day as they begin to move towards hope one step after another.