Salvation Army Adjusts As It Serves People In A Coronavirus World

Mar 20, 2020

Maj. Ken Perine sorts through food at the Salvation Army's food bank in Spokane.
Credit Courtesy of Salvation Army

What happens to entities that are in the hospitality business when they have to turn people away because of the coronavirus?

We’ve learned that many restaurants, for example, have adapted by offering take-out and delivery services. Others have closed.

At Spokane’s Salvation Army, Major Ken Perine says he’s had to restrict access to the programs offered on its campus.

“We actually had to close the youth center and we’ve also moved all of our church services to online formats. And then for the shelters, we had to tell our guests they can’t have visitors. Their kids must be with them at all times. The kids can’t run around and play on the playground without their parent there because we want to enforce the six-foot barrier," Perine said.

Despite the need for physical obstacles, Perine says the Salvation Army is still helping families, especially those enduring recent layoffs.

“The word I really want to get out on the street is please don’t spend your hard earned money on food. Please come to get the food from us. Save your money for your rent. Even after this issue starts to go the other way, these folks that have been laid off for a month or two, I appreciate that Jay Inslee is keeping people from getting evicted, but they’re still going to owe that rent," he said.

Perine says business at the Salvation Army’s food bank was double the usual on Monday. For now, he says the supply of goods there is fine.

But the organization is looking for donations of a few basic supplies, namely toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies.

“We all know there’s certain people in our community that through rightful concern that they decided to stock up on certain items. I pray that, as they look at their garage that’s full of toilet paper and other items, probably a year’s supply, if they could maybe think of us and maybe keep only what they need and donate it so we can get some more people in need in our community," he said.

Perine is also looking for people who can volunteer some time, particularly people who are in good health and younger than 55. You can learn more about the Salvation Army’s volunteer opportunities at MakingSpokaneBetter.org.