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Michael’s story

A year ago, Michael came through our doors at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Camden, N.J., seeking a fresh start. His story is one of a kind and his gentle spirit is a blessing to everyone around, especially me.

Michael had gone months without work, and he had walked from nearly one end of Jersey to the other. In 2019 when he finally found himself in Camden, he applied for our kettle effort. When we hired him, we knew very little about his story as is the case with most of our bell ringers in The Salvation Army.

Every morning, we would meet at the Kroc Center and wait for the others to come for work. Without fail, Michael was always the first to arrive. When he often dozed off in our chairs in Town Plaza, I wondered about his story.

Michael was homeless. He had walked across New Jersey and simply wanted to start over. But he struggled to find anyone who was willing to give him a chance.

Michael was living in a local shelter when he landed this job as a bell ringer. Every morning at 6:30 a.m. he would wake up and walk for an hour– and–a–half just so he could arrive on time.

He was so happy to be doing such a simple job.

After our kettle season ended, he was offered another job at a local Walmart. He worked there every single day, from Thanksgiving until Christmas.

Fast forward one year. Michael still works for Walmart and has had his own residence for nine months.

Today, I’m thankful for this man. I’m thanking God for continuing to watch over him and for blessing his effort to make a new start and for allowing me to be a part of his story.


by Captain Brennen Hinzman