Salvation Army strives to meet continuing needs

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Salvation Army strives to meet continuing needs	 	Six weeks into closures and restrictions in association with attempts to drive down community transmission of COVID-19, officials of support programs have noted that the need for assistance remains high in the Indian Wells Valley.

“We still serve a lot of people, a lot of new faces we haven’t seen before,” said Rhonda Makowski of the Ridgecrest Salvation Army. “A few of the people we have spoken to say that they have lost their jobs because of COVID. Or their hours have been cut.”

She said that another trend she has observed is the increase in household size. “I think one of the things that has happened is that some people simply cannot afford rent any longer. So you have multiple families combining households in order to save money.”

Three days a week, Salvation Army staff and volunteers distribute food to upwards of 90 families. On Mondays, from 10 a.m. to noon, those seeking aid receive a package of non-perishable food items. On Tuesdays and Fridays, Salvation Army hands out “Fresh Rescue” packages of fruits, veggies, pastries, dairy and other consumables starting at noon, and ending when they run out of supplies.

“Our food supply has definitely gone down, since we are giving out more food than we usually do,” said Makowski.

“We also have the holiday food basket program coming up, and we are expecting to see a greater need for that as well.”

While the strain on the local food pantry is at an all-time high, the resources that support most of those programs have diminished. Salvation Army was already recovering from an increase in demand because of last year’s earthquakes.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the thrift store — which serves as one of the primary revenue-generators for services — has not been allowed to operate six days a week like it did before, driving down traffic and thereby sales volumes.

However, she said that many residents have risen to the call, donating food and money to the cause.

“We have definitely seen a little uptick in the number of people wanting to help,” said Makowski.

She invited prospective donors to call the Salvation Army at 760-375-7219.

Residents can get updates by following “Salvation Army Ridgecrest Corps” on Facebook.

Pictured: Cars line up to receive “Fresh Rescue” packages on Tuesday afternoon. - Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2020-09-25