Salvation Army Faces Record Needs in Grand Island

The Salvation Army is helping more people than ever in Grand Island. They've served enough meals to feed nearly everyone at Memorial Stadium -- 65,000 meals. And with needs growing donations need to grow too.

They serve 250 meals a day -- breakfast and lunch from their kitchen. And that doesn't count their food pantry that set new records this year.

Pocket change tossed in red kettles now helps feed the hungry all year long.

Capt. Dave Mowers said, "You may not think a handful of change is making a difference but when it adds up with everyone else's change, it really does."

The Salvation Army's goal in Grand Island is the largest it's ever been, set at $205,000. They say the people they feed may otherwise fall through the cracks.

Mowers said, "It takes care of people that are in need that would not have a meal otherwise and for others it is a place where they can come and be with other people who are alone and come and eat together, have a meal together."

They also run a homeless shelter along with programs for families. And all of those programs are supported by the red kettle campaign.

"If we ever fell short of that goal, it would affect programs not just as Christmas but year-round," Mowers said.

As Mark Merritt collects food in the pantry, he also stocks up for the lean months.

"Summer months is when we struggle with food so of course, gathering that now helps us maintain numbers throughout the year," he explained.

And the needs are growing.

Merritt said, "This last fiscal year was the biggest we've ever had in the food pantry. We donated $192,000 of food into the community."

The food collected now will last until March or later, and so will the funds raised.

Captain Dave doesn't just lead the Salvation Army locally, he's a pastor, and says setting their goal high is an act of faith.

"We work like it's up to us and pray like it's up to God," he said.

Right now, they're a little behind the pace in Grand Island, but not worried.

Whatever community you drop money into the kettle stays there to help locally.