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Letter to the Editor: Lamar Colorado Ministerial Alliance

 

Dear Editor,

 

It was the day before Halloween during our last snow storm. I had stopped in the office briefly to put a sign on the door telling people the office was closed. The roads were slick. The air was frigid and the ground covered in snow. I had just shoveled the main walkway to the main entrance to the church and went into my office to grab some last minute things to work from home, when the phone rang.

It was a man who was at the truck stop. He was trying to get to Arizona on his bicycle. He didn’t have access to the internet nor any other way to know about the storm he now found himself in. He was cold and he was hungry. He said that he had just talked to a sheriff officer who told him that “the local relief agency” was out of money to help people like him in his situation. That local relief agency is the Lamar Colorado Ministerial Alliance and what the sheriff deputy told him was accurate. He was calling churches and happened to get me. My heart broke.   It broke because I realized that this was the point in which I hoped would never come. It was miserable outside…and all of the coffers I knew of were bone dry. This man would not get all the help he was desperate for because there were no funds for the help.

I had used the last of the funds available to me to put up a woman and her two children for the night in anticipation of the storm. That came on the same day that three local families came in in tears because their electricity had just been turned off.

The drained coffers does not mean that the local churches along with the Lamar Colorado Ministerial Alliance haven’t been doing all that they can to help out those who are in financial crisis. Up to the month of November, the Ministerial Alliance alone has helped over   890 people, including almost 300 children avoid such circumstances as mentioned above. That’s not including what individual churches have done as well. We also carefully vet each case making sure this is the last resort and that there aren’t funds elsewhere to draw upon. We do our best to make sure those who are in true need get help. It just wasn’t enough this year.

We need your help. On Black Friday, you’ll see those familiar Salvation Army Red Kettles and bell ringers reminding us of our our privilege to share with others. They’ll be going Thursday afternoons, all day Friday’s, Saturdays and half day Sundays until December 23rd. We hope to have them at both Walmart and Safeway this year.   Please be mindful of the needs in our community and be generous. If you wish to make a donation by check, please make it out to Salvation Army/Lamar Unit, 1001 South Main Street, Lamar, CO 81052. You can also give via GoFundMe. Just look up LCMA Helping People in Prowers 2020. And share it on your social media platforms!

We are also in need of bell ringers. In other areas, local charities that utilize the Salvation Army’s red kettles have come to the point in which they have to pay people to ring the bells. We would like to use as much money as possible to help those who need it. That means we rely on volunteers. If we don’t have a volunteer, the kettle isn’t available and opportunities to give are lost. If you are interested in helping, call me at 719-691-5075 or email me at pastor.darren.stroh@gmail.com. I’ll be glad to get you plugged in where its both needed and fits your schedule.

One last request, remember those who are ringing those bells are volunteers. They are standing out there for an hour or more ringing bells and watching people try to avoid eye contact. It’s perfectly OK to smile at them and say, “Hi,” or even “Thanks for doing this.” They aren’t out there to beg, just to give you an opportunity to give. Your smile and encouragement can make a cold hour feel so much better.

Let’s make 2020 a year where those who are actually in need find the resources they need to avoid hearing this sentence, “I’d love to help and I agree you need it, we just can’t.” Every little bit helps. Those kettles accept pennies as well as $100 bills.

 

Respectfully,

Pastor Darren Stroh
LCMA

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