SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — It’s been about six weeks since Lori McCallops moved into The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope shelter, a place that she didn’t even know existed until she needed it.
“Like this kind of a situation, if this is well known or not, it wasn’t to me,” McCallops said.
What she has always known is where she would be if she wasn’t at Center of Hope.
“I’d be sleeping on the sidewalk out there,” McCallops explained. “And with my health issues, I probably would not be living at this point.”
Unable to pay her increased rent, the 55-year-old army veteran chose to leave her apartment. McCallops made this decision before evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic became illegal in California.
Now she keeps her hands busy knitting to keep her mind at ease. It’s personal time that gives her a brief moment of privacy in a shelter that houses about 100 others.
But McCallops, who joined the military to honor her grandfather who was killed in action during WWII, is not the only one looking toward brighter days during the current pandemic.
“Need is increasing, while the money is decreasing, and that math doesn’t work out longterm,” Salvation Army Lieutenant Larry Carmichael explained.
With shelters, transitional housing, rent and food assistance, and other programs, The Salvation Army of Sacramento is far more than the famous red kettles.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, donations have dropped but demand for its services have skyrocketed.
“The reality is that last year in Sacramento were served 32,000 individuals, in the last seven weeks we have served more than 35,000 individuals,” Carmichael said.
With an annual budget of around $8 million, The Salvation Army expects to lose around $400,000 more this year because the pandemic has canceled some of its biggest fundraisers.
Sixty percent of its budget comes from personal donations.
“The average gift is only $37,” Carmichael said.
Now more than ever, Carmichael and The Salvation Army are hoping people will be able to help others, and in turn, themselves during these tough times.
“So when we give, whether it is $5, $10, $100, $1000, we are giving a piece of ourselves believing that that is going to carry our intentions forward to do good,” Carmichael said.
When asked, “If people understood the scope of what happens here, do you think that they would be more willing to donate?” McCallops responded:
“I think they would. I think they would. I really do. It’s like putting a spotlight on something and it’s not that people don’t care. I don’t believe that. I just think it hasn’t occurred to them.”
When McCallops moved into Center of Hope, she gave herself a time period of a month and a half to find her own place and move out. Thanks in part to the state’s stay-at-home order, that deadline has now come and gone, but she insists it will happen.
And with financial help from those in our community, and the passion from The Salvation Army, she believes it will happen for others as well.
“They will do anything they can for you and move heaven and earth to try,” McCallops said.