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For Whom The Bells Toll

It’s Christmas – a peak time for the Salvation Army, which translates faith into action every day of the year.

Volunteers Diane and Bob Macgowan stir the gravy in preparation for the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving meal.

Volunteers Diane and Bob Macgowan stir the gravy in preparation for the Salvation Army’s annual Thanksgiving meal.

Bob and Diane Macgowan grew up in families that reached out to help people in need, and together they’ve quietly but enthusiastically continued the tradition. For years the couple contacted everyone they knew to man the Red Kettle and ring a bell for the Salvation Army outside the beachside post office during the holiday season. If a volunteer didn’t show up for his or her two-hour shift Bob and Diane would take their place, smiling and thanking everyone for their contribution. As the non-profit organization’s only general public fundraiser, each coin, bill and check tucked in the kettle slot goes towards supporting year-round programs.

One of the most important is the Soup Kitchen and, as coordinator of the twice-weekly Mobile Canteen, Bob has seen the numbers grow.  “We still have our regulars but with the downturn in the economy we’re getting more and more first-time people who are in need of food,” he points out.

“Diane and I got involved with the Salvation Army back in 1999 when the building was new and we went to the grand opening. We took a tour and when they showed us the kitchen we asked what they were planning to do with it – we were volunteering at Our Father’s Table and The Source at the time and we could see the possibilities. So now when people want to know what the Salvation Army does here in Vero Beach we tell them we feed the poor and the elderly, we deliver meals to shut-ins and there are no qualifications. If someone can’t get out and needs food we take it to them; we’ve developed a personal connection with the people we help.”

Read the entire article in the December 2011 issue