Joplin's Salvation Army Hopes to Regain Public's Trust, Seven Ye - KOAM TV 7

Joplin's Salvation Army Hopes to Regain Public's Trust, Seven Years After Tornado

Joplin, MO -

Seven years after a catastrophic tornado, Joplin's Salvation Army takes a moment to thank donors who have contributed to the area's rebuilding.  In the initial phase of tornado recovery, several people in the community were upset at the organization, believing it could've been using donations more timely.  The Salvation Army at the time was thinking about partnering with Joplin's then master redeveloper Wallace Bajjali.  That company later went defunct.

Today, the Salvation Army took time to go over how most of the $6.4 million in donations have been used.

"It's a trust thing," says Maj. Beckie Stearns with Joplin's Salvation Army.

"I like the fact that she's stepping up and saying we do want to regain trust," says Joplin resident Murray Hollis.  "It's probably going to set them up for a better future."

Hollis works with Christian Friends Connection, and organization that collected and distributed donations to tornado survivors.

"I think it's honest to open the books from time to time and allow people to see exactly what things have been spent for," says Hollis.

Thousands of donors have given money to the Salvation Army for tornado relief.

"Giving from five dollars on up to half a million.  So there were a lot of numbers in between there," says Stearns.

...A lot of numbers, but no misplacement or misuse, according to Salvation Army officials.

"We have been working really hard at spending the donated funds and giving it to organizations so that we can be prepared for any other disaster, as well as taking care of the people who live here and are still struggling," says Stearns.

About $2.5 million in donations was used by the Salvation Army in the first year after the Joplin tornado for things like immediate needs; food, clothing, prescriptions.

Almost $2 million have been spent in the last seven years on more than 11 organizations, such as Catholic Charities, the Leffen Center for Autism, the United Way, Crosslines food pantry, and the Joplin Family Y.

About $2.5 million have been spent within the last seven years on Habitat for Humanity to build 12 houses and 35 family storm shelters, with ten more houses planned.  

$1.5 million would go toward a new Salvation Army mobile command vehicle, and also to resume disaster case management still left from the tornado.

"We had this one gentleman come in and he had gone to Arkansas to live with his family.  He wants to come back to Joplin and he has no place to live," says Stearns.

Salvation Army workers say they have more plans for the future, and hopefully that includes even more support from the community; support Hollis is willing to give.

The Salvation Army has spent close to $2 million more than what was donated (this includes appropriations for future projects).  Organization workers say that extra money came from interest that was gained on donations.


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