About The Salvation Army

  • Founded by William Booth in 1865, The Salvation Army is an international organization and evangelical part of the universal Christian church that meets the physical and spiritual needs of people in more than 125 countries around the globe, without discrimination.
  • With nearly 7,600 centers of operation - covering almost every zip code in the United States - The Salvation Army provides assistance to those in need 365 days a year.
  • The Salvation Army assists more than 30 million individuals nationwide throughout the year – that’s about one person every second – nearly 4.2 million of those during the holiday season alone.
  • About 82% of your donation to The Salvation Army goes directly to program funding to help people who need it most. Writing in Forbes magazine, Peter Drucker called The Salvation Army “by far the most effective organization in the U.S.”
  • Every year, more than 1.3 million people volunteer at The Salvation Army to help with programs and services for others.


The Army At Work In The Community

  • Joan Kroc, widow of McDonalds founder Ray Kroc, made the largest individual charitable contribution in history to The Salvation Army in 2003. Her $1.5 billion gift was given to the Army for the exclusive purpose of building recreational and community centers in under-served neighborhoods.
  • The Salvation Army provided more than 102,000 job referrals last year.
  • The Salvation Army provided summer camp and day camp opportunities to more than 200,000 underprivileged children, seniors, and adults last year.
  • The Salvation Army assists more than 18 million people with basic social services each year.
  • The Salvation Army operates a Missing Persons Program, which helped well over 20,000 last year.
  • The Salvation Army’s Community Care Ministries visited more than 2.3 million people with special needs in hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional facilities last year.
  • The Salvation Army operates several domestic violence shelters nationwide, where abused women and children can get a fresh start in life, safely and confidentially.
  • When you shop at Salvation Army Family stores, you are supporting adult rehabilitation centers that annually help more than 203,000 people from every walk of life fight substance abuse and return to their communities as participating, contributing members.
  • The phrase “on the wagon” was coined by men and women receiving the services of The Salvation Army. Former National Commander Evangeline Booth – founder William Booth’s daughter – drove a hay wagon through the streets of New York to encourage alcoholics on board for a ride back to The Salvation Army. Hence, alcoholics in recovery were said to be “on the wagon.”
  • Today, The Salvation Army’s Alegria program in Los Angeles provides transitional and permanent housing and specialized support services to homeless and low-income families affected by HIV/AIDS.


The Army In Times Of Need

  • The Salvation Army’s work in disaster relief began in 1900 in response to the devastating hurricane that destroyed Galveston, TX and killed more than 5,000 people.
  • The Salvation Army began dispensing food and drinks near Ground Zero less than an hour after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. In our nearly nine months of service there, 40,000 Salvation Army volunteers, staff and officers assisted 4.5 million people with meals, pastoral counseling and social services.
  • The Salvation Army was at the frontlines in World Wars I and II, offering comfort and pastoral guidance.
  • The Salvation Army is often credited with popularizing the doughnut in the United States. During World War I, The Salvation Army served doughnuts – often cooked in battle helmets – to U.S. troops in the field; and many soldiers came back to the States hooked on the pastries. In 1938, The Salvation Army created “National Doughnut Day,” observed the first Friday of June, to honor the female Salvation Army officers, or “Doughnut Lassies,” who served the troops during the War.
  • The Salvation Army led in the formation of the USO – United Services Organization. The USO operates service units, which serve members of the armed forces abroad.


The Army Through The Years

  • The red shield dates from 1896 and serves as the trademark for the Army’s social services.
  • In 1891, The Salvation Army opened its own match factory in Old Ford, East London. Only using harmless red phosphorus, the workers were soon producing six million boxes a year. A competitor paid its workers just over two pence (two British pennies) a gross, while The Salvation Army paid their employees twice that amount.
  • Also in 1891, the red Christmas kettle debuted in San Francisco in the guise of a crab pot. A depression had thrown many out of work, including hundreds of seamen and longshoremen. The campaign proved so successful that by 1900 it was imitated nationwide. Kettles are now used in such distant lands as Korea, Japan, Chile, and throughout Europe.
  • In its 123nd annual campaign, the Red Kettles raised $148.7 million – a new fundraising record -- in the U.S. in 2013. Kettle funds are used locally to provide a wide range of social services for those who need them most in communities nationwide.
  • Known for its brass band music, The Salvation Army has approximately 2,500 brass bands worldwide. Since the 1920s, a Salvation Army brass band from Southern California has marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade.
  • The first Salvation Army band was formed in 1882 by accident. Charles Frye and his sons offered their services as bodyguards for Salvation Army street preachers. They began playing music on their brass instruments to give them something to do while they protected the officers, and soon after quit their family business to lead the Army’s music department.
  • Movie actors Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, Mae West, and Joan Crawford have all appeared in movies with Army characters.
  • The Salvation Army church in the middle of Times Square, New York (on West 47th Street) operates Theater 315, a 99-seat showcase theater that stages uplifting family entertainment.
  • “Strawberry Fields Forever” in the Beatles 1966 song by that name, is John Lennon’s nostalgic reference to a Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Field in Woolton, England. Lennon is said to have played with childhood friends in the trees behind the orphanage when he was a boy. The facility closed in 2005.