Salvation Army fielding more calls

BRADENTON — Major Alma Gower must find angels for 4,172 needy children if they are to have any presents for Christmas this year. But before she can find the angels, she has to find the civic-minded groups willing to put up a tree to attract the angels.

So far, she has far more children than groups willing to put up trees.

If they can't find enough angels, the Salvation Army is going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul by dipping into next years budget, says Major Robert Pfeiffer, director of development. "It's a really critical year for us," Pfeiffer said. "But we felt given the economic crisis and desperate need this year, we could not turn any family away. We accepted every family that qualified through the Oct. 17th registration deadline."

Now the Salvation Army needs a miracle.

"These are the working poor living pay check to pay check," Pfeiffer said. "People who have lost their jobs, who have been laid off. They are having a hard time making it."

Hope and prayer are the only alternatives, Pfeiffer said, when the Salvation Army’s lone receptionist fields more than 900 calls from desperate people seeking assistance each week.

Fortunately there are angels stepping forward — some from unexpected places, like Tammy Walker, of Carlton Arms of Bradenton, the first apartment complex to ask for an angel tree, said Gower.

"We know the Salvation Army does a great job,” Walker said. “We wanted to help people in need.”

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