Then the Kettles would disappear until the next Yuletide season. The money collected in those Kettles did stay in Whitley County and did help those in need, however if you asked the average citizen about the Salvation Army they would say “We don’t have one in Whitley County.”
Three years ago that perception started to change. A quiet unassuming lady with a big heart by the name of Pat Mossburg came to our community. She arrived without fanfare, no big fancy office, no large budget to draw from, no assistant or secretary or any staff at all. But what she did have that would make her perfect for the Community Ministries Specialist job was a strong belief in God and a real desire to help people.
Pat started helping people in a shared office in the Lehmberg Building providing a variety of services. Slowly people started to become aware that the Salvation Army was in our community. Pat was showing up all over Whitley County. She was seen in schools giving “Safe From Harm” programs, in nursing homes and senior centers giving fun and informational presentations. She handed out school shoes in the fall, worked with Toys for Tots at Christmas time, gave referrals and encouragement to those in need.
Then in April 2008 Pat moved the Salvation Army to the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Chauncey and Jackson streets. With the new and larger office, Pat expanded the services provided by Salvation Army. With the help of Kiwanis and the First Presbyterian Church she started providing school supplies, cooking classes, a non food pantry, and awareness programs such as “Light the Way,” that brought attention to, and remembered children victims of abuse and neglect. When asked, people were no longer answering; “We have a Salvation Army?” or “I think we have one.” The Salvation Army being active in Whitley County was a fact known to almost everyone. Now, when hearing of someone in need, one of the first ideas to pop into the mind of the average person wanting to help, is to refer them to Pat and the Salvation Army.
Pat’s supervisor Ken Locke commented; “I remember when I interviewed Pat for the Community Ministries Specialist position for Whitley County. She was so positive and had a passion for people. Now watching her work I have seen that heart for others in action. She has a large heart for people who are hurting and children who are abused and neglected. Pat has a listening ear and a compassion that reaches out to others. She is a wonderful example of someone taking to heart and applying the mission of The Salvation Army, “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” Mr. Locke is the Community Ministries Director for the Salvation Army serving Kosciusko and Whitley Counties.
In June of this year, The Salvation Army moved to Eagle Quest Church. Here she has continued to brighten the lives of those she helps by providing a wide variety of services. In cooperation with Eagle Quest two new programs, two new cooking classes, and a new service “Angel Food Ministries” have been a big success. Recently at the Annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet, the Salvation Army was honored with the JEWEL OF THE COMMUNITY award.
Preparations are now underway for the upcoming holiday season. The Salvation Army is partnering with DeMoney-Grimes Countryside Park Funeral Home to distribute coats and with Toys for Tots to provide gifts for Whitley County children. The Salvation Army Red Kettles will be returning and Bell Ringers are needed. “Several groups have signed up already but I still have plenty of openings. We plan to be at Kroger and to cover both doors at Wal-Mart on Saturdays starting November 28,” remarked Pat, “and I would really like to be able to ring on Fridays this season.”
If you or your group would like to spread some Christmas cheer and help those less fortunate, you may donate monetarily or volunteer your time. Volunteers will be needed to Bell Ring as well as sorting, preparation, and helping with coat and toy distribution. “I get back so much more than I put in, knowing that I have truly helped someone, seeing the smiles on the faces of children … it gladdens my heart, sometimes I get choked up and have to wipe away a happy tear,” said one volunteer.
The Salvation Army and Eagle Quest Church are located a half mile north of State Road 30 on State Road 109. Monetary donations may be made and designated for food, toys, ect. to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 881, Columbia City, IN 46725. To volunteer or for more information call Pat Mossburg at 248-1711.