Salvation Army uses new vehicle donation to help homeless and disaster victims

Jason Baker

May 1, 2019

Photo of woman in wheelchair receiving drink from FedEx volunteer

She calls herself Mama Rose. She had traveled to Colorado Springs for her brother’s funeral when she had an auto accident and didn’t have the extra cash for the repairs.

Now she’s homeless, in a wheelchair, and first in line to thank volunteers from FedEx and Salvation Army for taking the time to serve a warm meal from the Salvation Army’s new Canteen vehicle.

Mama Rose is accompanied by her 6-month-old dog, Jenga Bee, as the line for meals, hygiene kits, and warm socks begins to stretch through the parking lot and into a downtown park. Jenga Bee wears a sweater knitted by a friend, and it’s not entirely clear if she is shivering because of the early spring chill or just the puppy-excitement of meeting a new friend.

“Can you imagine having to stand in line every time you need to use the restroom? Standing in line for every shower or to have a place to sleep at night? Most people don’t realize how difficult it is to be out here like this.”

The line between the comfort of having a place to call home and being on the streets is sometimes as commonplace as a car wreck or an unexpected medical bill. The Salvation Army serves communities across the country, and homelessness is just one of the situations where they step in to help.

A new vehicle for emergency disaster services and mobile canteen services

The vehicle serving meals at the park in Colorado Springs this day is celebrating its dedication day. An Emergency Disaster Services van for the Intermountain Division, this brand-new Mercedes Sprinter van was donated to the Salvation Army by FedEx as part of the FedEx Cares Delivering for Good initiative.

It will serve Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana and is one of 22 Emergency Disaster Services vehicles that FedEx has donated to the Salvation Army.

The vehicle itself is ready to face tough challenges on the road. Next-generation technologies allow it to handle hard-to-reach places. It has a crosswind assist mode, self-inflating tire system, and a host of other technical features that keep it safe and operational during the most severe weather.

The Salvation Army operates in every zip code in America, providing assistance to communities before, during, and after a catastrophic incident occurs. The new fuel-efficient vehicle is equipped with a generator, mobile charging stations, tents, and serving windows. It will be warmly welcomed in communities in need, helping provide meals and emergency disaster supplies when needed.

On dedication day, FedEx team members join the Salvation Army to celebrate almost 20 years of collaboration, which has seen FedEx donate more than $6 million in cash and in-kind support. They team up to serve meals from the new Canteen at the park and at a local shelter for hundreds of people.

In times of need, the Salvation Army steps up for communities

Back at the park, Mama Rose talks candidly about her situation. Years ago, she actually ran a food pantry from her home in Texas. She’d visit a supermarket monthly with her own money, the neighborhood donated food, and local game wardens even brought her meat.

“Now I’m in a wheelchair, and it’s really difficult to get to the mission for lunch in the daytime; so most days I don’t have any lunch.”

She introduces us to her friend, Brittany, from southern Colorado. She used to work in the medical industry in Utah until she hit a rough patch in life. She has been on the streets since, looking for a place that has a more compassionate approach to transgender people like her.

Brittany’s eyes are bright and her smile is contagious as the afternoon winds down. She thanks volunteers and attends to Mama Rose’s needs while preparing to move along down the bumpy sidewalk.

“Just…thank you so much for thinking of us today.”