When Charlene Smith needed help with The Salvation Army food distribution in Potter County, she knew just who to call.
“I called the Eagles,” she said. “And they told me, ‘We’re in!’”
The Ulysses American Eagle Motorcycle Club has helped The Salvation Army deliver food boxes to seniors, those who are disabled and those who are housebound during the pandemic. They have delivered over 13,500 meals to residents of Potter County.
The motorcycle club has been partnering with The Salvation Army for the last 10 years. Every holiday season, they stand out in the frigid cold on Black Friday and Saturday to collect toys and donations for The Salvation Army.
“They are phenomenal,” said Smith, who is The Salvation Army’s Service Extension representative for Potter County. “I can’t say enough good about them. We could not do what we do without them. They are very community-minded and organized.”
Lucy Morseman, another Salvation Army volunteer, agrees.
“They are a huge asset to The Salvation Army and have been for many years. They are truly dedicated to helping others. When we started this food distribution, all we had to do was call them and they came. They are donating their time, the use of their vehicle, and their gasoline to help,” Morseman said.
The pandemic hit Potter County hard. Many members of the American Eagle Motorcycle Club were furloughed from their jobs, which meant they had availability to deliver the food boxes.
Morseman described her experience delivering the food boxes.
“At first, people were afraid to even answer the door. We set the food box on the porch and knocked, and let them know it was food from The Salvation Army. So many emotions crossed the faces of the recipients,” she said. “Some said thanks, some were in tears and others looked relieved that they didn’t have to leave their homes to feed their family. Some hadn’t seen anyone in a long time and would stand behind the door and speak to us. It’s been very emotional and very well received. It is truly rewarding.”
Sue (name changed for privacy), 79, and her husband, 83, were the recipients of some of those food boxes. Married for over 60 years, they were both born and raised in Potter County. They live an hour away from the nearest grocery store.
“It’s a rural area,” said Sue. “Thanks to The Salvation Army, we’ve been able to stay home during this pandemic. We were happy to get the food boxes. There were snacks my husband likes, and cereal and dinners. Everything was very good. There was even milk from a local farm, which helped because there’s been a shortage of milk at the store. We didn’t have to go out to get groceries. I told Charlene how much we appreciate everything that has been done for us.”
Sue went on to describe the tight-knit community.
“Everyone checks on somebody. We check on our neighbors, and if they need anything, we are there for them and they are there for us. The people of Potter County are good at making sure everyone in the surrounding area is okay.”
“It is such a great community. Potter County is the most wonderful county God ever created. We all try to help each other. Everyone has everyone’s back. As The Salvation Army representative, I rely on the local people — the motorcycle club, the legions, and the schools in the community — to pull together at times like this. We take care of our own. Everything we collect in Potter County stays in Potter County. It stays local.”
Smith has been volunteering with The Salvation Army for over 14 years. She explained why she stayed in the position for so long.
“I like helping people. I know where the need is. Some of the people we have dropped food off to have actually cried. It hits the heart. The people we are helping are those who are always the first ones to reach out and help others,” Smith said.
The Salvation Army is praying for peace, comfort, and healing for all our communities during this very unsettling time. To give to The Salvation Army, please go to The Salvation Army Virtual Food Pantry.