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The history of The Salvation Army in Jefferson City starts 116 years ago in the year 1899, The Salvation Army came and tried to begin its operations, but financial limitations and lack of community support resulted in them having to pull out in January of 1900.
However in 1922 The Salvation Army returned, due to the prominent role The Salvation Army played in World War One with their famous ‘Donut Girls' in the trenches, the Army received a much warmer welcome. The first meetings were held in homes and on street corners; the first reported location was 215 ½ East Main Street, in a small office above the old Montgomery Ward's building in the uptown area of the city.
In 1920 the Army had begun a building campaign with a goal of $4,000 which lasted until 1929 when they moved into their first purpose built building at 414 Jefferson Street. They resided in this building for over forty years until a newer and larger building was built down the road at 927 Jefferson Street, where they are located today. In addition in 1920 The Salvation Army formed a community Advisory Board and it still has one today, the inaugural chair was C.C.Carson and the current chair is Mr. Don Perdue, executive vice president of Central Bank.
The Salvation Army has always sought to serve ‘the lost and the least', this began in the 1920's with various women's groups who went out to the homes of the people and helped them. Sometimes it meant cleaning the house, doing the laundry, feeding the children or taking care of the sick. In 1925 The Salvation Army in Jefferson City partnered with the newly established United Way (at that time called the United Community Fund) and began carrying out its social services on a larger scale.
One example of this is The Salvation Army's shelter, which has existed in some form for the last 76 years. This was birthed in the 1930's when unemployment was high even in the State Capital. The Salvation Army began serving meals and letting men sleep in the basement of the building. Those who did work helped share the cost and the Army helped to find jobs for those men who were unemployed.
The current utility assistance program began in the 1970's if not earlier, when the Army began helping with gas bills through a program originally called ‘gas help'. Finally the food pantry's genesis came from arrangements made with the Safeway store located on West Dunklin Street and the Hen House Restaurant on Stadium Blvd using a voucher system for clients.
Since then the Army has seen other ways in which it can serve the community, expanding to the extent of current operations which include a Thrift Store, forty bed homeless shelter, case management based social services, community meals and food pantry just to name a few. In 1976 The United Way accounted for a third of The Salvation Army's budget with an allocation of $30,000. Today The Salvation Army receives over four times this amount each year, and while revenue streams have been diversified The Salvation Army still relies greatly on the support from the United Way and the wider community of Jefferson City.
In 1976 the commanding officer at the time said that the Army's general concern was to, "meet peoples' needs, wherever the need might be, if we can possibly meet it. From housing, food, transportation, whatever the need might be, always trying to show the love of God through it". This is still the mission and aim of The Salvation Army today.
According to Lt. Christopher White, the current Corps Officer at The Salvation Army "On October 8th 1920 a Jefferson City newspaper (likely the Tribune) ran a story about The Salvation Army in Jefferson City detailing their ministry during the war and ending with these words ‘The Army's activities in times of peace are expected to be as valuable to the community as their war effort was to the soldiers and the money given for this work will be well spent'. We hope 97 years later that we have fulfilled these expectations and continue to serve the community with the same passion, and even greater resources than we had all those years ago".