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Amazon brings smiles to West Philly

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported this spring that the e-commerce giant Amazon now has more than 50 warehouses dotting the region.

Major Celestin Nkounkou, a pastor at The Salvation Army’s West Philadelphia Corps, said a nearby Amazon fulfillment center has regularly dropped off several pallets of donations this year to help the disadvantaged members of the community who his congregation serves.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with donations and that’s good because we have to help the needy,” Nkounkou said. “We’re getting an abundance of donations to help people in the community.”

Nkounkou said the donations include food, clothing, drinks, and basic needs such as shampoo, lotions, dressings, seasonings, ketchup, coffee, tea, and other goods. The company with the familiar “smile” logo has brought plenty of smiles to this part of Philadelphia.

“I’m not really sure when it’s coming,” Nkounkou said. “They call me, and they just deliver it.”


Answers to prayer

The people who line up each week see the corps as “a center of hope for the community” and “a safe place where they can have a special relationship with one another,” Nkounkou said.

Lt. Colonel Larry Ashcraft, the Salvation Army’s commander in the Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware Division (PENDEL), wrote about the donations in his weekly “Victory Reports” email, saying the corps “continues to give out as much as they have, clearing out everything.”

During one week when the corps was about to run out of food, Nkounkou and his staff witnessed a God sighting.

Ashcraft wrote, “In the middle of distribution, a truck pulled up and unloaded tons of fresh food, which was above and beyond what they needed. The same day, a man at the food distribution asked for socks. His were worn out and tattered. The corps officers were able to find their last pair of socks in the back of the storage area.”


God at work

Socks are in high demand in this impoverished area. Nkounkou and his staff wondered if they would have any socks and under garments to share at the next food distribution, but they “simply trusted God to provide,” Ashcraft said.

“At the end of the day as the corps was about to close, a truck pulled into the corps parking lot. It was loaded with, you guessed it—socks and under garments. The corps is now overflowing,” Ashcraft said.

The divisional commander said he saw a scriptural principle at work.

“As we serve and use our resources for their intended purpose and are unafraid in our service, God provides. We are thankful for His provision for West Philly,” Ashcraft wrote.

by Robert Mitchell