The Salvation Army “Adopts” Berrian Elementary School

We just wanted to share from the blessings we have been experiencing here in the Quincy/Hannibal region. What a joy it is to now begin to develop partnerships and watch our vision grow as to the impact we can make over the course of a child’s life with the Kroc Center at the center of it all. In creating places and spaces for youth development, we are seeing the dream unfold before us. My dream is to watch us create the framework for lifelong impact as we walk with children and their families through the transitions of their development. This framework has just begun to solidify as we have identified one of our new partners in our neighborhood.

As part of our plan to build relationships in our community we have officially adopted our first school. Berrian Elementary School is located about a mile from the Kroc Center, and 91% of the children attending qualify for free lunch. Understanding what that translates to for income guidelines you can understand our desire to reach out to these neighborhood families with inspiration and hope for a future beyond their circumstances.

As an introduction to our Kroc Community, we held a Christmas Party for the school at our center. With the model proposed by Major Dan Jennings we took the adopt-a-school concept and ran with it. Lt. Linnea Forney took four Dollar Store gifts to the school and allowed each of the 235 children to select a gift for their mother and father, or guardians as they may be. With the selections made we moved quickly to take deliver of the gifts returning with a hand full of staff and alongside the teachers helped each child wrap the gifts for their parents. Last night the school staff arrived at our Worship Theater with the gifts set, and then the families began to come.

And come they did. While we sent a bus to assist with transportation needs, we only needed to pick up 18 individuals. As we filled our Worship Theater, the overflow began to quickly fill the balcony as well. When all was said and done we had 583 in our worship theater. We had a few introductions of our officer staff and their School staff, then turned to the children to sing Christmas songs and to share a bit of poetry. I then shared a short message about the Joy of Giving.

Using the Kroc Gift as our example of joyful giving, we transitioned to the joy of giving by the children to each of the parents present. I expressed our gratitude for such a gift to our community and invited them to join us in enjoying all that this Community Center has to offer them and their children. We shared our desire to partner with them to provide an environment for youth development and an incredible future for our children. Major Dan Jennings then shared the Quincy Kroc vision of Inspiration, Instruction and Involvement and the invitation to visit us on Sundays for church.

From there we moved to the Meadows, where Christmas melodies filled the air as brilliant visuals danced on the overhead screens. The simplicity of cookies and juice allowed for conversations to linger into the next hour as this strange new building began to become a warm inviting space for the families and school staff present. This was the first of our open door activities with Berrian School. We look forward to many more updates as we continue to build on the foundation now begun.

- Lt. Rich Forney