Kroc Center Celebrates National Salvation Army Week

Apr 23, 2021

National Salvation Army Week, May 10–16, 2021

National Salvation Army Week, initiated in 1954 by President Eisenhower. we would like to share about the incredible ministry of The Salvation Army around the globe and in Kootenai County.

“Among Americans, The Salvation Army has long been a symbol of wholehearted dedication to the cause of brotherhood. Their work has been a constant reminder to us all that each of us is neighbor and kin to all Americans. Giving freely of themselves, the men and women of The Salvation Army have won the respect of all.” – President Dwight Eisenhower

Have you ever heard of a “slum sister?”

For more than 150 years, The Salvation Army’s #1 goal has been to preach the gospel of Jesus and meet human needs his name without discrimination. Around the turn of the 20th century, Salvation Army church members known as "slum sisters" intentionally lived in the worst areas of cities like London and New York in order to be as useful as possible to their neighbors. They would visit homes to take care of children, nurse the sick, cook meals and do housework. They'd also visit bars, brothels and drug houses for the purpose of bringing the light of God into dark places. Today, The Salvation Army works to defeat darkness in every zip code in America and in 130 countries around the world. To learn about the 16 impact areas of The Salvation Army in the U.S., visit

May 12, 2021

Did you know that The Kroc Center opened 12 years ago today? Some of our favorite memories include the very first CAST Swim Meet, packing the theater year after year with Traditions of Christmas and the Banff Film Festival, Halloween parties, The Kroc High School Boys and Girls Water Polo Team earning State Championships 8 years in a row, Kroc youth chosen to create the Christmas ornaments for the Idaho tree in Washington D.C. and the simple joy of watching families coming together, in this safe place, to grow and celebrate their own achievements. 

There are only 26 Kroc Centers. Coeur d’Alene competed against Boise, Tacoma and Seattle but was ultimately awarded one of only 26 Salvation Army grants to build and endow a Kroc Community Center. The first Kroc Center was built in 2002 in San Diego and the final Kroc Center opened in Camden, New Jersey in 2013. Although each community was required to participate in the funding, these centers were primarily funded by billionaire philanthropist Joan Kroc, heiress to the McDonald’s fortune. To learn more visit

Donut & Veteran History

Did you know that The Salvation Army played a critical role in forming the USO? The United Services Organization or USO serves members of the armed forces while they are abroad. During World War I, The Salvation Army served doughnuts – often cooked in battle helmets – to U.S. troops in the field at no charge.  In 1938, The Salvation Army created “National Doughnut Day,” observed the first Friday of June, to honor the female Salvation Army officers, or “Doughnut Lassies,” who served the troops during the War. See the famous Salvation Army Donut Recipe

It is not uncommon, during the Red Kettle season, to have a veteran of World War 2 approach and share their story, often tearfully, of how The Salvation Army served them or their fellow soldiers during the hardest days of war. Sometimes the stories are a simple retelling of being given a hot cup of coffee and a donut when it was needed most, the spiritual nourishment more impactful than the physical nourishment. And sometimes the stories are heart wrenching, told with a combination of gratitude and emotion. The Salvation Army serves everyone, but these interactions with our greatest heroes are extra meaningful.

Natural Disaster Relief 

Did you know that The Salvation Army began dispensing food and drinks near Ground Zero less than an hour after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Twin Tower? In every community The Salvation Army is poised to transition from day-to-day social services to emergency mode whether it be a flood, hurricane, act of violence, or fires. In 2017, The Kroc Center contributed 160 hours of labor and organizational expertise to the Carr Fire and during the 2020 quarantine, The Kroc Center became the regional emergency management command for all of northern Idaho and western Montana. Learn about where The Salvation Army is helping this week.

Kroc Community Outreach

Did you know that The Kroc Center helped 30,000 individuals in 2020? In the midst of tragedy, we offer food, shelter, rent, heat assistance, and other practical support. In several cases, it is these simple gestures that prevents someone from sleeping in their car, reverting to an unhealthy relationship, or feeling they are all alone.  

When Joe was at his lowest point, he was given the exact help and encouragement he needed from The Kroc Center. He had lost his job and we were able to help provide food and temporary shelter to his family of eight. 

It was this generosity that changed his life and led him to help others in need including Kelli. Kelli had fled an abusive relationship with her autistic daughter after it almost took her life. Kelli and her daughter were living in their car, desperate to stay safe and worried about asking for help.

Joe convinced Kelli that she could trust the people at The Salvation Army Kroc Center. “They helped me at my lowest point and without judgement. I think they can help you too.”

We provided towels, blankets, plates, toilet paper, soap, and the final rental assistance Kelli needed to secure her own apartment. Kroc Community Outreach Manager, Leslie Johnson, personally met her at the apartment complex late on a Friday afternoon to pray with her and hand her the keys. 

To see the 2020 community impact annual report.

Ministry in Moldova

From October 2015 – October 2018, Majors Don and Ronda Gilger were appointed to serve the country of Moldova as Salvation Army Officers. Major Ronda Gilger was the Divisional Commander for Moldova while Major Don Gilger was the Territorial Secretary for Business. The stories shared by Majors Gilger of the warmth and richness of the Moldovan people is a powerful testament to their tenacity and faith in God. And it contrasts heavily against the challenges to simply survive in Moldova. Extreme poverty and corruption influence and challenge most every citizen to simply survive with the basic necessities of food and shelter. To survive, many leave the country desperate to support their families. What is often presented as an “opportunity” quickly realizes itself as a sex trafficking system that has crippled the family unit and created a “missing generation” of parents who either never return or return only to be imprisoned for the crimes associated with trafficking, despite the fact that they are often victims as well, being doubly punished for simply trying to survive. Entire schoolrooms of children have lost their parents, who make unthinkable choices to be able to send just a little support back to their families. 

Major Ronda Gilger shares “being appointed to Moldova was much like falling in love. I found myself both inspired and overwhelmed on a daily basis. Perhaps the most engaging are the people themselves and the ways in which they have learned to approach life “richly” despite the economic and political uncertainties knocking on their doors.” The Salvation Army ministers to the children of this “missing generation”. The children who’s parents have left the country in hopes of securing financial stability. Over the past five years 20% of the population has left the country, leaving Moldova’s social orphans with loneliness and abandonment reflected in their eyes. These children’s dreams begin with the very things we take for granted – the love of a parent, daily food, warmth and health. The prisons are full and penalties severe for those who return back after having committed the “crimes” connected to sex trafficking – it all feeds a compendium of hopelessness. 

Officers in the field teach women basic life skills, inviting the public to take part in English classes and teaching their soldiery to engage in outreach. Food boxes are delivered to grateful families along with the gospel and hopeful fellowship. Major Ronda remembers visiting a home with three children who sleep in a double bed under a tattered and torn family heirloom quilt. The mother has backed their bed against a little stove, lit for warmth during the bitter winter months. She sleeps in a chair. No utilities. No water. No toilet. The stone house so small that you can barely turn around inside. And yet “Momma” stands and greets, welcoming us in to her home wearing a heavy coat, scarf and galoshes. She smiles and says: “I am blessed to have this home. My children are my treasure. The Lord is here with us. The Salvation Army has been so good to us.”  

The Salvation Army serves in over 130 countries around the world. Moldova is just one of those countries. But a country and people that will forever be stamped on the hearts of Major Don and Ronda Gilger. They share, “The Salvation Army of Moldova is a shining light reflecting the compassionate Saviour who offers a living relationship beyond the ritual religion many Moldovans have known. Officers are entrepreneurs of the Spirit and The Gilgers are inspired by ways in which they are faithful to their calling.

Strawberry Fields Forever

In the 1966 Beatles song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John Lennon is referencing a childhood memory of a Salvation Army orphanage called Strawberry Field in Woolton, England. Lennon is said to have played with childhood friends in the trees behind the orphanage when he was a boy. The facility closed in 2005 but reopened in late 2019.


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