What Type of Services Does the Salvation Army Offer to Lost Travelers?

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Lost travelers can appeal to The Salvation Army for help.
Lost travelers can appeal to The Salvation Army for help. (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

The Salvation Army, working in cooperation with Travelers Aid International and Greyhound Bus Company, has a tradition of providing meals, shelter, social services assistance and transportation for those lost or stranded along highways with no way of getting home. In addition to weather emergencies that force travelers into Salvation Army shelters, certain Salvation Army centers operate a Stranded Travelers Program that will help travelers “return to communities where they have family or social support, and will have a better opportunity to attain self-sufficiency.”

Meals

Due to weather emergencies or other sudden accidents, travelers arrive in an unknown city with no money for food. The Salvation Army gives hot meals to poor, hungry traveler. A perfect example happened in January 2011, when the Salvation Army provided meals and warm drinks for 150 passengers during an ice storm that left them stranded in the Greyhound Bus Station in Atlanta, Ga.

Shelter

The Salvation Army typically rescues stranded travelers during weather disasters. For instance, in March 2010, when Interstate 70 in Vail, Col., closed because of a sudden snowstorm, the Salvation Army provided 45 people with free bedding for the first night and 14 people stayed for a second night. Likewise, 240 people found shelter at the Salvation Army when an ice storm stopped their bus trip in Abilene, Texas, in February 2011. The Greyhound bus could not safely continue and all passengers had to sit out the storm.

Social Services

Social workers at Salvation Army community centers work with travelers who have complex needs. Since the Stranded Travelers Program requires that the traveler show identification before the program renders assistance, and since sometimes homeless people do not possess birth certificates or standard identification, the Salvation Army helps homeless travelers obtain identification. However, the traveler must understand that this process of acquiring ID may take a week or more. In addition, if a homeless person wants to enter a rehabilitation facility near family members for support, the Stranded Travelers program arranges it. Sometimes the unemployed, searching for work in an unfamiliar city, cannot find work before their money runs out and they can turn to the Salvation Army for transportation home.

The Stranded Travelers Program

The Stranded Travelers Program remains the Salvation Army’s quintessential travelers’ assistance program. Salvation Armies in several cities operate this program. For example, the Stranded Travelers Program of Greater Cincinnati was recently revived thanks to an anonymous $10,000 donation. Working in conjunction with Travelers Aid International and the Greyhound Bus Company, hundreds of destitute travelers can go to the nearest Salvation Army Center and meet with a social worker who, after verifying the traveler’s identity, will ensure that someone or an agency will receive the traveler once home. Sometimes the Salvation Army helps the traveler obtain bus fare.

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