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Salvation Army seeking help for heating unit
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Lt. Lisa Knotts, commander of the Martinsville Corps of the Salvation Army, keeps warm with a small heater in her office. The heating unit gave out at the Salvation Army building on Memorial Boulevard, and the corps is looking to the community to raise $5,000 to cover the remaining cost of a new unit.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The time of year, the Salvation Army usually is helping impoverished area residents pay their heating bills.

But this year, the tables have turned, and it is the local Salvation Army Corps that needs help.

Lt. Lisa Knotts, commander of the Martinsville Corps, said the 35-year-old heating unit at the corps building on Memorial Boulevard has stopped working. And with winter on the way, the corps doesn’t have enough money in its operating budget to replace the system.

“The nights of late have been chilly, leaving our building too cold during the day to stay inside without a coat,” Knotts said.

Area heating specialists have said repairing the heating system would cost almost as much as replacing it, estimated at around $10,000, Knotts said.

The Division Headquarters of The Salvation Army in Washington, D.C., has offered a $5,000 matching grant toward replacing the heating system, and the local corps is asking the community to come up with the $5,000 match.

“This is a blessing,” Knotts said of the matching grant. “Now we have to raise $5,000 within our community to pay for this new system. And I hope we can do it pretty soon. It’s getting cold outside. It’s hard on folks that come in for food or assistance. They’re already suffering enough.”

Knotts said the corps has nowhere to turn for help except the community.

“We are grateful for the $5,000 from HQT (headquarters), but we’ve got to work hard, pray hard and hope we can raise enough money to match it so we don’t have to close down our facility here on extremely cold days,” she said.

Operating funds for the local Salvation Army unit come from the operation of a Thrift Store in Collinsville, the Christmas Bell Ringing Program and local contributions from The United Way, various civic organizations and charities. The division headquarters does not fund the local corps except in emergencies and when loans are needed.

The Martinsville Corps building, the largest in a four-county area, consists of office space, a sanctuary for Sunday worship, a kitchen and dining hall where meals are served daily, and after-school facilities that include a gym and recreation facilities for needy children.

The daily hot meal program is one of the “shining stars” of the Salvation Army program in Martinsville.

“In past years, folks have come into our kitchen not only needing a hot meal, but needing a place to warm up on cold days,” Knotts said. “We sit them down, talk about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, have prayer and feed them a hot meal. They always leave feeling and looking better after that.”

If the matching funds are not raised, she said, the Salvation Army would have to dip into its operating funds, “which I hate to do,” Knotts said. That would take away from the various programs Salvation Army provides. For instance, she said, 62 people attended a youth program Tuesday night.

“The good people of Martinsville and Henry County have always been generous to us in the past,” Knotts said. “And we thank God for each and every one of them. I just know in my heart that they will help us get some heat in this building.”

“We don’t want to cut back. We want to keep building,” she said. “... The economy has been hit hard this year, but any (donations) will be greatly appreciated.”

Donations are being accepted for the heating system. Checks may be made out to The Salvation Army and mailed to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 551, Martinsville, Va. 24114. Designate the money for “Heating System.”


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