The Colorado Springs Gazette

Government money can’t alleviate poverty

RACHEL STOVALL Rachel Stovall is an event manager, entertainer and community advocate.

Across Colorado financial need has moved into our awareness in the way that many of us move into an apartment. If we can afford one.

As the need in Colorado increases, only by working together can we create true social support. The adversarial dynamic of politics can’t achieve community. Just brokered compromise.

Recently the Salvation Army– a faith-based organization- that meets practical needs — hosted a special event to help families in need. They collaborated with local donors, retail giant JC Penny, volunteers and the parents who registered for help.

These groups came together to give schoolage kids $100 gift cards to use in JC Penny for a back-to-school shopping spree. This event was the largest ever – serving 200 children.

Captain Doug Hanson the El Paso County Coordinator for Salvation Army said, “When times are tough and money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to, we’re out here supporting struggling families to make sure they’re ready for school.”

Many of the children at the special shopping event were recipients of other Salvation Army programs like their before/after school program or family homeless shelter.

All of the non-profit’s programs support those who are working towards self-sufficiency.

Corporate partner Jcpenney opened its doors outside of its public hours on a Saturday. All families were given a 30% off coupon to use with the $100 gift card. In addition, the staff of the store put out items with additional discounts designed to help parents and their kids buy even more at the event.

Joshua Bascom, Jcpenney General Manager spoke with great emotion on the necessity of giving back to others during this economic downturn.

“It’s been our pleasure helping The Salvation Army and the community here in the Springs. It is a great opportunity for JCPENney to share more of our core values and to help those in need. With all that’s happening in the world, it’s essential for us to show we care and that we can make a difference in our communities.”

Gavin Light, owner of G Light Equity LLC sponsored 50 children to the shopping spree. This was no small gift. He shared with an interviewer what convinced him to donate like that.

“Salvation Army has such a good pulse on needs within the community due to operating a homeless shelter, after school programs, transitional housing and more. They stretch dollars the most and that means more kids getting the back-to-school items they need.”

The parents were grateful for the relief of financial tension. With inflation skyrocketing, and the pressure on — parents were excited about the shopping spree.

Many helped the vulnerable families to regain a sense of pride in themselves. “I’m pretty excited you know, for me and my daughter,” said Alicia Lowe, mother of a 6-year-old who was selected for the annual back-to-school shopping spree. “We’ve come a long way from where we were.”

This is the power of common unity. Which the government lacks.

Government can write a check but can’t build the healthy relationships that can raise the needy into self-sufficiency. In fact, distributing tax raised funds without mentoring contributes to long term poverty.

Most people in poverty are surrounded by people who also lack resources and can’t help. The Salvation Army broke this cycle for a day by bringing needy families into a prosperous circle of people who helped. This action showed possibilities in life and helped participants to feel they are allowed to aspire for more.

EBT, TANF and even Section 8 no longer do this. The well-meaning programs keep participants in disadvantaged surroundings.

Only connection to prosperous community lifts the vulnerable. This is why more and more governments turn to the non-profit community to implement mission driven work.

As they should.

The Salvation Army took the lead in this story. This non-profit “provides practical help, defends those who are vulnerable and abused, and fights against injustice.”

Someone should do those things. If you can’t — then you should support those who are. Your time, talent and treasure can help achieve a mission to help others when government programs fail.

Your tax dollar may not be decreasing generational poverty – but through prosperous relationships your donated dollar is.





The Gazette, Colorado Springs