Covid-19Magazine Exclusive

Beyond the horizon

An ongoing storyline in the fight against COVID–19 is the Salvation Army’s continued development of strategic partnerships.

Such is the case in New Jersey, where the Army received grants in the past year totaling $105,000 from The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

“It’s a composite of four gifts Horizon gave us in the last calendar year,” explained Benjamin Ovadia, resource development manager for the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J. “They hugely upped their giving in four buckets.”

Ovadia said the grants include:

  • $35,000 to fund youth and family obesity education and prevention.
  • $15,000 to KROCares Childcare.
  • $50,000 COVID feeding relief through mobilized feeding in addressing the crisis in south Jersey. Corps–level warehouses were bolstered.
  • $5,000 for #RescueChristmas from Jonathan Pearson, executive director of The Horizon Foundation and director of corporate social responsibility for Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. Pearson is also on the Salvation Army’s New Jersey Advisory Board.

“We are so blessed and fortunate to have the support of an amazing corporate partner and committed community leader in Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey,” said Major James Betts, commander of The Salvation Army’s New Jersey Division. “New Jersey’s largest health insurer has been a wonderful partner and donor to The Salvation Army for many years.”


‘An amazing instrument’

Betts said the family obesity education and prevention initiative will support a range of activities for young people to learn and stay active through the Salvation Army’s core youth programs.

Captain Keith Maynor, administrator of the Camden Kroc Center, said the obesity prevention program is timely, well–researched, and scientifically verified.

“It’s an amazing instrument that we have; the ability to help educate and be a conduit for knowledge and to help kids with a very specific problem in Jersey,” Maynor said.

KROCares supports remote learning and combines day and after-school companion programs for children of essential workers. Maynor said the tutors are there to help children who are not returning to the classroom due to COVID.

“We’re going above and beyond to care and love these kids and support their education,” he said. “If it wasn’t for Horizon giving us the big grants, to push us through, and help get us to the other side, we would not have been able to help kids learn remotely during this time. That’s just not a gift to the kid, it’s a gift to the parent, who may be wondering, How am I possibly going to show up for work and be a full-time teacher to my kid?

“It’s the resources, it’s the belief, it’s the partnership, it’s the help from Horizon that really equips us with resources to make such a gift to kids and to parents and to families.”

The $50,000 for COVID relief will help The Salvation Army operate a food warehouse in Southern New Jersey. The money will go to purchase and install commercial refrigeration and shelving needed there to refrigerate, organize, and store tons of food. This will support an unprecedented feeding operation, as well as purchase thousands of dollars of food to supplement food boxes and ensure families have balanced and nutritious meals.


An anchor that holds

Maynor said Horizon has been an “anchor” that has helped The Salvation Army fight COVID–19.

“We really believe the fight against COVID is the fight of our lives for the Camden Kroc Center,” Maynor said. “Since March, we’ve been mired in the work of fighting food insecurity. We’ve now impacted more than 6,000 individuals since the beginning of March.”

Maynor said that, for frontline workers, the fight against COVID is also a “battle against fatigue” as they are physically exhausted and emotionally drained.

“When a partner like Horizon comes along and gives us resources, it is a breath of fresh air. It’s a spring that gives us energy to keep moving forward,” Maynor said. “It is beyond money. The money they’ve given us is so critically important and so needed, [but] they’ve also given to us the credibility and the belief. They energize us and helps to keep us moving forward.”

Betts said Horizon also knows the importance of The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign. This year, due to COVID–19, there will be fewer locations available to stand kettles and that will mean fewer dollars by the thousands to meet Christmas and other year–round needs. While the kettle locations will be limited in number, the human need will be greater.


A longstanding supporter

Horizon, which has supported The Salvation Army during times of disaster such as hurricanes and now COVID–19, was among the first to sign on as a sponsor for this year’s kettle kickoff event in September.

“Horizon supports community–based organizations that are aligned with the mission of our foundation to make New Jersey healthier,” Pearson said. “The Salvation Army Kroc Center has been a mainstay for the most vulnerable populations in Camden and South Jersey.

“As the effects of COVID–19 continue to strain families who must rely on the generosity of community organizations to meet their most basic needs, it is more important than ever to support the Kroc Center’s food warehouse, KroCares, and their Red Kettle Campaign.”

by Robert Mitchell

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