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A kettle kickoff at city hall

The Salvation Army Passaic, N.J., Corps Christmas kettle kickoff held a special meaning this year. It was the first Christmas event that Lieutenants Guilbaldo De La Cruz and Yesenia Hernandez had organized for the corps as its newly commissioned officers. It was also the first outdoor event for the corps since the pandemic began in March. They set up an information table where passersby could learn about the services the corps offered. People also took Angel Tree tags. Anyone who wanted to help buy a child a Christmas gift was invited to take a tag and drop off a gift at the Passaic Corps.

Lieutenant De La Cruz welcomed the crowd that gathered outside City Hall and spoke to them about the Salvation Army’s mission to help everyone in need.

“We are a church that preaches the message of Jesus Christ,” said Lieutenant De La Cruz. “Everything we do, we do it because we believe in God,  who is loving and good to us.”


Helping needy families

A woman named Margarita spoke in Spanish and then in English about how The Salvation Army had helped her and her three children. She told how they had received food for their table, as well as spiritual guidance.

“The corps helped me raise my children in the best way possible—with God in their lives,” said Margarita.

“I’ve seen the Passaic Corps provide help to families like mine, and other families that have just arrived in this country, and those who need guidance immediately,” said Margarita. In Passaic, immigrants from countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic make up 70 percent of the population.

Passaic Mayor Hector Lora, who has worked with the corps for outreach and COVID–19 testing for the homeless, said that he is thankful for the Salvation Army’s presence in his city and stressed the importance of the Army’s mission.

“They understand that the need in the community goes far beyond a blanket for warmth or a can of food. Those things are important, but fighting poverty is work that does not end with just that.”


When the bell rings for you

“One day when we answer to the highest throne in the universe, God will ask us, ‘Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone to help others?’ None of us should ever want to tell Him that we were more concerned about ourselves than we were for the least of His children,” said Mayor Lora.

Lora rang the first bell at City Hall’s kettle. Police officers, fire fighters, and residents walked by and eagerly dropped money in the kettle and took photos with the mayor.

“Like all the new Salvation Army officers this year, Lieutenants Guilbaldo and Yesenia had to get a late start due to COVID,” says Major James Betts, divisional commander for New Jersey who was a guest at the event. “But when they arrived here, they hit the ground running. We are blessed to have them and their servant hearts. God is present in all they do for Passaic.”

by Hugo Bravo