Other nonprofits step in to help as COVID-19 interrupts Salvation Army operations in Lodi

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LODI, Calif. (KTXL) — For the next two weeks, the Salvation Army’s Hope Harbor location in Lodi will not be offering their overnight or walk-in services to the public.

Like many businesses, the Salvation Army is having to make adjustments to their operations after several staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

On a normal Friday night at the Salvation Army’s Hope Harbor Shelter, it is a packed house, with over 100 to-go meals being served to people who need food, warmth and good company. But these are not normal times. 

“Because of some COVID concerns, many of our staff members actually had to stay home,” said Salvation Army Corps Operations Officer Major Mark Thielenhaus.

With all of their kitchen staff gone, limited volunteers and an inability to house the 18 individuals in their overnight program, Thielenhaus said Hope Harbor will be much quieter in the weeks to come.

“I think we’ve seen a slight decrease in our overnight stays,” he explained. “So, I think they’d rather risk being out in the cold, on the streets for a night than worry about being in a room with other folks.”

But COVID-19 will not stop the generosity of others.

“We praise God that, thankfully, some of our neighbors, Grace and Mercy Charitable Foundation and the CommUNITY Service Team, another faith-based group in town, they offered to come in and cover all of our next two weeks’ worth of meals. So, they can still serve dinner to the public,” Thielenhaus told FOX40.

“We’re always involved with them. So, for us this is nothing different, we’re always out here,” said Bill Moersch, CommUNITY Service Team manager.

Serving up chili dogs and hot coffee, Moersch and the other volunteers and cooks with Grace and Mercy said pandemic or not, when they see a need in the community, they are always there to help.

“A form of support within the community is here thanks to volunteers, thanks to people financially supporting,” Moersch said. “So, if Salvation Army has a need, we see the need, we meet the need. If Grace and Mercy has a need, we see the need, we fill the need.”

“The chance to be able to give back and point people back to our faith so they can get better, that means the world to us,” Thielenhaus said.

Moersch said Grace and Mercy will be serving dinner every night for the next two weeks from 5 to 5:30 to help the Salvation Army. For those who have a need, he said do not hesitate to come seek them out.

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