Salvation Army 101: The Who, What, When, How and Why

Nov 5, 2022

The Salvation Army 101

It is that time of year again! Hustling and bustling, shopping and cooking, crowded parking lots and stuffy department stores....places where you will inevitably be greeted by a Salvation Army bell ringer and their red kettle. While The Salvation Army has been said to "own Christmas," there is so much more to what the Army does: providing year-round vital care and support to those struggling through challenges circumstances.

For years, The Salvation Army has been selected as one of America's favorite charities by Forbes magazine. Despite most having only a very general idea about what the organization does, The Army's brand mark, the red shield, is recognized and respected around the globe. 

The Christian organization has been helping the downtrodden, those living in poverty, children who are hungry, providing assistance and shelter for veterans, healing those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, even rescuing victims of sex and labor trafficking. The organization's focus has stayed consistent since its founding over 156 years ago.  The mission: to  serve those in need and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There is so much you should know about this organization - you are guaranteed to find at least one area of focus that aligns with the issues you care about. So, sit back and get ready for today's lesson -- The Salvation Army 101.

So who are we? What do we do? And where?

Let’s start with the who.

The Salvation Army is a faith-based organization that began in London. Its co-founders, a Methodist minister and his wife named William and Catherine Booth, walked the streets preaching to the homeless, the hungry and the destitute. The Booths’ efforts became The Salvation Army, which set out to offer compassionate, tangible service to people in need following a quasi-military structure with William Booth as its first General.

As The Salvation Army spread, it became known as one of the largest providers of humanitarian aid in the world. You may have even heard of its early motto: Soup, Soap and Salvation. Today, the work is carried out across the U.S. by 63,000 employees, some 3 million volunteers and roughly 3,500 officers, who complete a two-year training program to become ordained ministers of The Salvation Army.  And that’s just here in the U.S. The Salvation Army has a presence in 134 countries worldwide.

Next, the what.

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is “to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”

With the generous support of the public, The Salvation Army serves more than 31 million Americans in need each year. That’s almost one person every second, every day.

One person every second, every day. Below is a list of the services offered to help the most vulnerable and in need of care in communities across the world:

•    curing hunger
•    overcoming poverty
•    providing shelter
•    fighting human trafficking
•    stopping domestic abuse
•    equipping families
•    teaching kids
•    empowering the arts
•    assisting the unemployed
•    combating addiction
•    helping disaster survivors
•    loving the elderly
•    serving veterans
•    sharing God’s love
•    meeting the greatest need
•    brightening the holidays

Now, the where.

As an international organization, The Salvation Army serves in more than 134 countries around the world and in every U.S. zip code, working to meet human needs in every community—exactly as that community needs.

Right here in Orange County, we aim to transform lives through courage and innovation, empowered by Holy faith. The Salvation Army Orange County strives toward meeting this at our three Orange County Corps, located in Tustin, Anaheim, and Santa Ana. Orange County services offered include:

•    food assistance for families
•    shelter and resources for the homeless
•    drug and alcohol rehabilitation program
•    anti-trafficking services
•    youth programs and pre-school
•    general assistance for men, women, and families in need

Ok, we’ve heard the who, what and where…but why?

Every program of The Salvation Army is rooted in a passion to serve God by serving the hurting, the helpless and the hopeless.

It’s biblical: We love because God first loved us.

As Mark 12:30-31 says, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Or more simply, as we find in 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, love.”

We know love doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t pick and choose. When there’s so much to fight against, love fights for. When others flee, love runs toward. For 156 years, The Salvation Army has loved all who feel lost. We love beyond hunger, overdue bills, homelessness, crisis, loneliness, poverty, addiction, loss…and with your help, we’ll never stop.

Although some have said differently, The Salvation Army has never discriminated against any race, religion, or sexual orientation. If someone is need, The Salvation Army is there to provide help and support, whatever that means.
Did you know nearly 1,200 Salvation Army corps—or church—locations across the U.S. offer worship services every Sunday morning?

That’s right! If you are looking to join a new church community -- or family -- The Salvation Army Orange County invites your family to meet ours on Sunday mornings to worship. Sunday morning worship is available at all three Orange County Corps: Tustin, Anaheim, and Santa Ana.


And all of this leads us to the how.

Yes, The Salvation Army does a lot. And notably, we don’t do it alone.

Thanks to generous donors and a long list of corporate partners, we are able to do the most good. On a national level, we’ve partnered with Walmart Stores, Kroger Company, JCPenney, Walgreens, UPS, Albertsons and many more, to help us meet our mission. In Orange County, we are blessed to have the support of our generous donors, local business and community leaders that have partnered with us on our Advisory Board, where our members' genuine care for those we help, along with being natural leaders that like to get things accomplished. is helping make the biggest impact possible.


By meeting tangible needs, we give the world a lasting display of the love behind our beliefs. Since 1865, we have been working to provide sustainable solutions for the most vulnerable. We stay not just until the job is done, but long afterward, to ensure that the healing continues. With 82 cents of every dollar dedicated to directly supporting the needs of the community in which it was received, The Salvation Army is committed to stewarding every donation with integrity.

So, how about you? Where do you fit in?

Right here.

Imagine belonging to a community with a loving God and caring people, where you can find joy, goodness, meaning, love. Find your place with The Salvation Army Orange County and help us transform lives as we fight hunger, homelessness, addiction, human trafficking and more.

Consider getting involved with The Army here in Orange County. While financial support is necessary for our programs to  grow, we realize that pocketbooks are tighter than ever with soaring inflation. We are always looking for volunteers who seek to help the lonely and lost; we ask that you make a small commitment to help The Salvation Army this coming year -- whether you send a check or sign up to volunteer, we guarantee your support will bless you as much as the people you will be helping.  

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