By Dianne Riddles
Many people know about the Salvation Army’s charitable work through their interaction with the bell ringers who work throughout the Christmas season at the mall and in front of various stores around town; however, many people do not realize what other community services the Salvation Army provides.
The Lawton Salvation Army is a 501c3 charitable organization and is under the direction of Captains Ernest and Debra Hull.
According to Capt. Debra Hull, she and her husband have been officers for 11 years and have served in Altus, Ardmore and Pine Bluff, Ark., before their appointment to Lawton two years ago.
“Christmas is our big fund-raising time for the entire year, and we always hope that what we raise during Christmas will last most of the year,” she said. “We did do well this Christmas, and God blessed us and we made our goal; we had really good bell ringers.”
Hull said that Lawton provides continuing challenges with many community service opportunities available to anyone who wants to help.
“There are many ways to donate time, energy, money or whatever a person might have to donate,” Hull said. “Anyone who is interested can help serve meals at the soup kitchen where we feed hot meals every day of the week from 6 to 6:45 p.m.”
According to Hull, at the beginning of the month, there may be only a few to feed but, for example, by the end of this January, the kitchen fed 60 people at one meal.
Hull also said that opportunities are available at either of the two Salvation Army Thrift Stores for those wanting to help.
“Anybody can help and we can always use more help with sorting and moving furniture at the stores, which are open six days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” Hull said. “Additionally, anyone having furniture to donate can call us and we will send a truck to pick it up.”
The Salvation Army also responds to disasters such as the wildfires that burned at Medicine Park and Fort Sill last summer.
“We responded to a couple of fires with the canteen last summer, which required a lot of resources,” Hull said. “We need people to help by volunteering with the canteen, and those people should come in ahead of time, because it does require some training.”
According to Hull, sponsoring a child in the Adopt a Child program is another much needed way to help. The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Lawton Fort Sill offers children the tools they need to succeed, while providing a safe nurturing environment in which to learn. The Adopt a Child sponsorship program encourages individuals and corporations to consider adopting a child for a year. The funds raised give access at reduced or no charges to children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to be a part of The Boys and Girls Club program. The sponsorship program also sends children to summer camp for a week, and sends children to a day camp Monday-Friday each week during the summer months.
Hull wants the Lawton community to know that there is always need and the Salvation Army is always here to try to meet those needs.
“The Lawton community has been really good to the Salvation Army and we want to thank the people here and at Fort Sill for their help and support,” Hull said. “We just want to work with the community and let them know that the Salvation Army is here to help.”
According to Nathan Newell, the business manager, the Salvation Army is expanding service to Duncan. A Salvation Army Service Unit, located at 715 Willow Ave. will be serving Stephens County. Appointments will be scheduled once or twice a week based upon need. Some services offered are assistance with utility bills, prescriptions and motel vouchers. Anyone seeking assistance in Stephens County may call 580.251.9646.
Those wishing to donate furniture in Lawton may call 580.355.0399 to schedule a pick-up.
The Lawton Salvation Army is located at 1306 SW E. Anyone seeking information may call 580.355.1802.