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Salvation Army in urgent need of volunteers

ELKHART, Ind. -- 

The Salvation Army in Elkhart says it is struggling to find enough volunteers to help with its breakfast feeding program.  

The program has been serving the homeless and people in need a hot breakfast every weekday for more than a decade. Lt. Shawn DeBaar with the Salvation Army says they currently serve about 80 people a day through the program.

“Volunteers make it possible for programs like this to operate,” he said. “So we don’t have to spend all those dollars on staffing, but we can spend them on making sure people are leaving with full stomachs.”

Lt. DeBaar said the breakfast feeding program is the only one of its kind in the city of Elkhart.

Each weekday the staff prepares a hot meal, but volunteers are needed to help clean, move chairs, serve breakfast and talk with those who come to eat.

At least three volunteers are needed each day. Lt. DeBaar says about 15 volunteers total would be ideal. Right now there are four.

One of those volunteers, Kelly Beerman, started last week when he heard the program was down to one volunteer. He now plans to volunteer several times a week.

“I love it,” Beerman said. “I think it's great. It's a great opportunity to meet people and give back to the community."

Having enough people to serve the breakfast not only ensures the program runs smoothly, but also safely.

"It's important that we have the adequate staffing and supervision to make sure that those coming for breakfast are safe as well as our volunteers,” said Lt. DeBaar. “We've never had any issues in our feeding program with any type of violence or anything like that, but it's still important that we're able to give a watchful eye to what's going on."

Lt. Debaar also said it also dramatically decreases the work load on the staff.

Volunteers are asked to give a minimum of an hour and a half of their time at least one day a week during the time breakfast is served from 8-9 a.m.

Those who are interested in volunteering will also need to go through an application process. That includes a background check and some training.

“So we make sure that they are qualified,” said Lt. Debaar. “And the folks that we’re putting in front of a vulnerable population have been vetted through our organization.”

Interested volunteers can call Elkhart Salvation Army’s office at 574-970-0088 or go online to apply.




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