Instead of holding their regular Wednesday night service, Ardmore community and church members gathered — a safe distance apart— to scrub down and sanitize the Salvation Army church this week.
Captain Alan Grimes, Salvation Army of Ardmore Administrator, said the Salvation Army is always “first and foremost” a church. The Salvation Army is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church, with a mission to meet human needs.
Through this mission, the Salvation Army regularly serves a population of people among those most vulnerable to COVID-19 and the resulting effects of the virus, according to a statement by the national organization.
While the Ardmore Salvation Army has halted its regular meetings and events in response to CDC recommendations regarding COVID-19, church services are still being held.
“For right now, yes, we are holding services, but it will be like people in the gym - we’ll be spread out,” Grimes said. “If they want to come, it’s all volunteer of course. We’re also trying to meet people at home or something like that, for those who can’t come out.”
Though not a large crowd, enough people came out on Wednesday to clean the whole church, Grimes said. In response to COVID-19 the Salvation Army has developed a nationwide hygiene and cleaning protocol to help keep its employees, volunteers and the homeless and other vulnerable people it serves safe.
According to a statement from the Salvation Army, many individuals the organization serves, such as those living in poverty and who are experiencing homelessness, severely lack access to proper care, hygiene, updated information and medical resources, making them more susceptible to the virus.
However, Grimes said they are still unaware of how the virus may affect the local homeless population and there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the local population yet.
The national organization is anticipating an increase in the need for emergency assistance regarding rent or mortgage, utilities, and food assistance due to COVID-19.
At the Salvation Army in Ardmore, Grimes said they are carrying out their food distribution services as normal, but limiting contact between individuals. Instead of having people come into the building, Grimes said the food will be brought to them so they can take it back home.
“Unless they just don’t have anywhere to go then they’re allowing a few to come in at a time,” Grimes said, regarding the homeless population. “They’re talking about social distancing and things like that — so we’re trying to keep our numbers from being too big where everybody’s in contact until we’re needed.”
As of Thursday, March 18, Grimes said there hasn’t been any apparent food shortage locally and the numbers of those needing food assistance has remained fairly normal. The Salvation Army will continue to operate under normal hours, unless told otherwise.
Grimes said they are carefully monitoring the situation day by day and will move forward as necessary. “Every day is different, we’re waiting day to day,” he said.
While caring for some of the people who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 nationwide, the Salvation Army is encouraging individuals to make donations. Donations can be made by visiting salvationarmyusa.org or calling 1-800-725-2769.