The Salvation Army in Newburgh, N.Y., gave out 700 ice creams and flyers about the church during the recent National Night Out.
“We were just handing out ice cream and talking to people about The Salvation Army and the services that we provide for the community,” said Major Ana Guzman.
National Night Out, held the first Tuesday in August each year, is billed as a “national community-building campaign that promotes community-police partnerships.”
Meanwhile, Major Ana and her husband, Major Jose Guzman, have found the ice cream ministry a sweet way to engage the community.
“We are using the ice cream cart as an outreach ministry to the kids and families,” she said. “We are trying to see how we can connect them to the church. We just got here two months ago and are trying to connect people to our programming.
“People request us to go to other locations. When there are community events, we are there just to be visible, so the community knows we are available in various aspects of their life.”
It’s also not uncommon to see the ice cream cart in the neighborhood around the church, housing projects, and community events in Newburgh.
“We may take an afternoon and show up at a housing project,” she said. “Once you give away one ice cream, they’re going to tell all the other children. They come down, as well as some of the parents and grandparents. It’s an opportunity for us to reach out to them and tell them about Sunday school and our other programs.”
Guzman said the church has started baking and cooking classes for kids.
Meanwhile the canteen goes out every Tuesday morning to provide breakfast for 100-125 people and on Thursdays to give out dinner to 150.
The church also distributes food to 100 families on the first and third Wednesday of the month. People can also get fresh produce every Wednesday and about 50-100 families take advantage, Guzman said.
The church also offers a lunch program Monday to Friday from 11 a.m.-noon.