Majic 95.5 Salvation Army Volunteer of the Month – Ben Rivera

Ben Rivera at the Christmas Cheer Center.

Ben Rivera at the Christmas Cheer Center.

What would you do if you had two months off from work every year? Would you take a vacation, or just some much needed R & R at home?

Our January Volunteer of the Month doesn’t take a vacation OR a “staycation”. Instead, every year in November and December when he is off work from his job at the IRS, Ben Rivera spends 40 hours a week volunteering at the Angel Tree warehouse in South Austin, helping ensure that needy children have a happy Christmas. You can watch our Angel Tree time lapse video here to get a glimpse into the warehouse and this awesome operation!

For the last six years, Ben has been volunteering with the Angel Tree Program at the Christmas Cheer Warehouse. The Salvation Army can always count on him to get the job done. Ben has saved The Salvation Army in excess of $47,000 through his generous volunteer efforts. Wow!! It’s amazing how his dedication has added up!

Ben is an unassuming person – going quietly about the work he does so well. He directs other volunteers and assists staff as needed during the hectic holiday season. The best part is, he does all this with a contagious smile and positive spirit.

So, it is easy to see why Ben is the Majic 95.5 Salvation Army Volunteer of the Month for January, 2014. Thank you, Ben!


Homeless boy at Salvation Army shelter

After the Holidays The Salvation Army Helping the Most Vulnerable

Homeless boy at Salvation Army shelter

Homeless boy at Salvation Army shelter

“After the holiday season some people think The Salvation Army takes a break,” says Lt. Colonel Henry Gonzalez of Austin. “No more bell ringing. No more Christmas kettles. We just wait until next year to help those in need. But nothing could be further from the truth!” 

“Every day The Salvation Army is there to assist those in need with food, shelter, clothing and emergency assistance. With the help of our supporters, in 2013, we provided life-saving services to more than 20,000 women, children and men in desperate need in Travis and Williamson Counties.”

With the slow comeback of the economy and the recent food stamp budget cuts, the most vulnerable among us are still at risk; nearly half of all Americans now rate as poor or low-income according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“With persistently high unemployment, rising living costs and stagnating wages, there are many in our community who are hurting. That’s why Annual Fund Drive Campaign is so important,” says Lt. Colonel Gonzalez. “Our goal is to raise $198,000 by January 31 to ensure our ability to care for the most vulnerable among us. We want to be ready to respond to those who need our help in 2014 and, with the support of our friends in Travis and Williamson Counties, we will.”

Lt. Colonel Henry Gonzalez reports for the coming year The Salvation Army will be called on to….

  • Provide grants for rent, utility assistance, medicine and food for families in desperate need.
  • Visit lonely, hurting people in nursing homes and correctional facilities.
  • Provide meals to hungry men, women and children in Travis and Williamson Counties.
  • Give disadvantaged children the opportunity to experience spring break and summer camps. 

To donate to The Salvation Army, please mail your gift to The Salvation Army, Austin Area Command, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 231, Austin, Texas, 78758, or make a donation online at


Primrose School Children Donate Food for Homeless

Primrose School mascot, Percy, helps the children shop for groceries to donate to the homeless shelter.

Primrose School mascot, Percy, helps the children shop for groceries to donate to the homeless shelter.

With a little help from their mascot, Percy the rooster, Primrose School children donated 900 canned goods and 2,000 pounds of turkey to The Salvation Army for the Thanksgiving meal at the downtown emergency shelter through the schools’ Caring and Giving Program. About 90 Pre-K and Kindergarten children from the Shady Holly and Southwest Austin schools raised money to donate this year under the direction of owners Duff Young and Kristin Rhoades.

The Caring and Giving program teaches children to save their allowance from household chores and integrates math and life skills through a budget and shopping expedition to plan and purchase the food.

Duff says, “We load them up and take them on a shopping trip to HEB. Character Development is a part of their curriculum. We have several programs like this throughout the year. They work hard to save money so that they can really make a difference in the community. Overall, the kids have donated $10,000 since 2006.”

Sharon Powell, The Salvation Army Kitchen Supervisor says, “We look forward to the Primrose School donation every year. There is usually enough turkey to use throughout the holiday season. We once had a driver who would wear a pilgrim outfit to pick up the canned food donations from the schools. He really enjoyed seeing the reaction from the children.”

The school mascot, Percy, not only goes shopping with the children, but he also helps teach the children about generosity by telling them about his friend who is a turkey and needs help. Percy’s turkey friend is a puppet that is pinned up in the school hallway and is barely clothed. The parents purchase feathers that the kids decorate to dress the turkey. The kids get excited and engaged. The money collected from this and the children’s allowance is used to purchase the donated turkey and canned goods.

The Salvation Army is grateful to Primrose School for joining us in Doing the Most Good!

Salvation Army Kitchen Supervisor, Sharon Powell, showing Primrose Schools Thanksgiving Donation

Salvation Army Kitchen Supervisor, Sharon Powell, showing Primrose Schools Thanksgiving Donation

Bitter Cold. Salvation Army Today

Bitter Cold. Salvation Army Today for January 9, 2014

Bitter Cold Record Breaking Temperatures

Bitter Cold. Salvation Army Today

Mary Rice Hopkins & Puppets with a Heart

Mary Rice Hopkins & Puppets with a Heart — Salvation Army Today

A Family Store Fire

Family Store Fire — Salvation Army Today

Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 ESV

The Salvation Army in Mississippi Participates in Active Shooter Exercise

114-MS-active-shooter-exerciseOn Friday January 3, The Jackson MS Salvation Army along with representatives from the Emergency Disaster Services section, and partners from The Southern Baptist Disaster Relief participated in a full-scale exercise along with multiple police and sheriffs agencies, The Clinton MS Public Schools, city government, Hinds County, and the FBI.

The scenario was that an active shooter had entered a public school in Clinton, MS, and had taken multiple victims, and was designed to test the city's capability to manage such an incident including the law enforcement aspects, evacuation of the school, parent / student reunification procedures, etc.

The Salvation Army’s role was to support the responders as they went about their work. The Salvation Army units were stationed at one location but delivered water, snacks and coffee to 4 different locations. In addition The Salvation Army delivered over 200 meals to the exercise participants. Another role The Salvation Army played, and one where The Salvation Army continues to grow is their Emotional and Spiritual Care. Occurrences such as the Newtown, CT shootings last year showed the importance of this type of response at an event like this. Victims have questions, and want to talk to someone they trust and is trained to respond.

While not traditionally involved in this type of active shooter exercise event, over the past few years agencies have begun to see that the abilities of The Salvation Army extend well beyond running a thrift store or passing out water after a disaster. According to ALM Divisional EDS Director, Thad Hicks, “Agencies cannot believe all we can do, and when I told them all they need to do is request our help, they were floored.” The Salvation Army in the Alabama-Louisiana-Mississippi Division alone has 32 mobile feeding units, plus a mobile field kitchen. Hicks added, “If a need presents itself, all of these assets are available to agencies within our division.”

Austinite Helps Feed Hungry & Homeless

Food Services Director, Sharon Powell with donated hams.

Food Services Director, Sharon Powell with donated hams.

Ten years ago, Evans Weaver was compelled to help the homeless. He drove down to “the Sally” (The Salvation Army) in Austin to make his first donation of 300 turkeys for the Christmas meal.  The Food Services Director, Sharon Powell, was so compelled by his generosity, that she sent him a special thank you letter.  Several years ago, Evans happened to run across this letter on his desk and that’s what brought him back that year to donate 100 turkeys for Christmas Dinner at The Salvation Army shelter in Austin.

Evans lives here in Austin and has donated 100 turkeys every year since, and this year he brought 60 hams. He has the thank you letter from 2004 and truly loves supporting The Salvation Army every year.

“His donation saves The Salvation Army from having to spend hundreds of dollars on food that serves up to 800 people. We rely on his generous food donation for our Christmas dinner for the homeless,” says Powell. “Without his help, we couldn’t have done this.”

Thank you, Evans Weaver, for your generous donations year after year to help feed the many hungry and homeless women, children and men in Travis and Williamson Counties.

Official Salvation Army Thank You from 2004, Evans Weaver and his daughter, Stacy Mangold

On the left is an official Salvation Army Thank You Letter sent to Evans Weaver from Food Services Director, Sharon Powell in 2004. On the right is a picture of Evans Weaver and his daughter, Stacy Mangold.