Dallas, Texas (October 18, 2011): Local Salvation Army staff and volunteers in Bastrop, Texas, continue to serve residents who are battling to recover from the devastating wildfires that tore through the area a little more than a month ago.
The Salvation Army first opened the doors of its Central Texas Wildfire Relief Center, located in Austin, on Friday, September 16. After four days unloading and sorting donated items received through the KXAN/Walmart “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” campaign the distribution center was made available to wildfire survivors. However, it quickly became clear that those most in need of assistance were unable to make the trip to Austin so the decision was made to deliver the emergency supplies directly to the people in Bastrop. Beginning Thursday, September 22, a truck loaded with food, water, toiletries, and cleaning supplies was staged in the parking lot of the Walmart in Bastrop, where items were available for collection.
In addition to donated items, volunteers from The Salvation Army Bastrop Service Unit have distributed more than $100,000 in Walmart gift cards to wildfire survivors who lost, or sustained damage to their homes, or suffered power outages. Families who have not yet registered with The Salvation Army for help, and have a FEMA number, will qualify to receive assistance. Generous grants to the disaster relief from The Meadows Foundation and Walmart have enabled The Salvation Army to provide this practical help to the people most affected in Bastrop. The remaining items from the “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” campaign are now being delivered to local agencies and churches who have established long-term distribution programs in the community.
Doris Kershaw, a Salvation Army volunteer in Bastrop said, “The first day of the gift card distribution we had 40 people in line by the time we were ready to begin at 9:00 AM. The line never got any smaller until we eventually ran out of applications at 1:30 PM.” She continued, “The need is incredible. Many of the people we see have lost everything. The community has really come together despite this tragedy and many of those lucky enough to still have their homes, have taken in families who have been left homeless by the wildfires.”
The Salvation Army was well represented at the Bastrop State Park media event, October 13, where County Judge Ron MacDonald and Senator Kirk Watson expressed their gratitude and admiration for the service being delivered. Staff and volunteers plan to provide similar assistance in Smithville on October 29, another community in Bastrop County affected by the wildfire. Additionally, Bastrop Salvation Army Service Unit Chairman Jim Kershaw hopes to have sufficient funds available to help volunteer firefighters, police and other emergency responders who served so tirelessly, despite the fact that many of them had also lost their homes.
Financial contributions to the Central Texas Wildfire Relief can be made by:
· MAIL to The Salvation Army, PO Box 36607, Dallas TX 75235
· PHONE at 1-800-SAL-ARMY
· ONLINE at www.salvationarmytexas.org