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Knock, Knock – It’s The Salvation Army

Kids are home during COVID-19 and the free or reduced–priced breakfasts and lunches they used to get at school are no longer available.

In Port Jervis, N.Y., the school district is offering those meals at four locations, but parents who lack access to transportation find the situation difficult.

Enter The Salvation Army.

“We were finding that our corps is right in the middle of a neighborhood and many of the families were not able to come to us or to any of the other locations, partly because they have small children at home or they are afraid to bring their children out,” said Captain Kelly Ross, the corps officer in Port Jervis.

Salvation Army officials talked to the school superintendent and mayor of Port Jervis and got permission to deliver the pre-packed meals from the school district directly to individual homes.

Ross said the corps delivered 40 breakfasts and lunches the first week, but that total is now up to 190 meals, three times a week. They deliver to roughly 75 homes.

“We make about 35 stops,” Ross said. “It takes us a good 3-5 hours.”

She said the corps delivers throughout Port Jervis. After the word got out, she had parents messaging her to get on the list.

“We’ve built up quite a list and we just go there every day we’re delivering,” she said.

To stay safe, the deliverers knock on the door, leave the food, and walk away. They wave to the families as they leave but avoid all contact. They also use plenty of hand sanitizer, Ross said.

The team has included Annette Palko, corps outreach coordinator, and some staff from Territorial Headquarters, including Major Betty Deming, the territory’s community care ministries secretary.

The endeavor is personal for Ross.

“I grew up in The Salvation Army,” she said. “My family struggled throughout my childhood and the Army was there. I always had officers who showed up with a bag of food and Christmas presents whenever there was a need. They instilled something in me. I love the Lord, and I love to help people out, and that’s why I do it.”