ATLANTA — We sometimes hear of Christmas cheer when a Salvation Army red kettle volunteer is having a meager day raising money, but suddenly, at the end of the day, finds a small fortune or a precious ring that someone had slipped into the kettle, to help others.
And doesn’t the donor often turn out to be someone like a retiree, who doesn’t have a fortune to give?
“I know there’s an extreme need."
Someone like Bruce Longino.
“I’m still working part time, so, I thought the check should go to people that were not able to work.”
Longino is 70 years old.
“I don’t make much money, but I’ve got Social Security," he said.
He has the timeless heart of a selfless child at Christmas who thinks he received too much and wants to share. He gave away his stimulus check to the Salvation Army, to the children and parents and single adults who are taking up every available space in the Red Shield shelter in downtown Atlanta during the pandemic.
So many of the working poor--and the job-seeking poor--are having to depend on the shelter, now, the shelter is running low on food and straining to pay its bills.
Longino gave them his $1,200 stimulus check.
“They [shelter managers] are using food a lot faster than they normally would, and they were worried about running out of food. And I talked to my wife and I said, 'well, if we’re going to stimulate the economy with this stimulus check, let’s give it to the Salvation Army to buy food with it. That’ll stimulate the economy and it’ll feed people that need it.'”
“That’s wonderful, isn’t it?!” exclaimed Sergeant Janeane Schmidt, who has run the Salvation Army’s downtown Atlanta shelter for 24 years.
Now she is one of the front-line warriors in this coronavirus outbreak, helping more clients than ever keep body and soul together.
The $1,200 will go toward the residents’ needs.
“The kids can’t go to school, the parents, even if they could keep their jobs, now have to stay home to babysit them," Sgt. Schmidt said, describing how she’s stretching food as far as she can for the residents.
She also said the monthly electric bill and water bill are already thousands of dollars more because so many more people are having to stay inside the shelter around the clock.
In other words, Longino’s check is a godsend.
He agreed to talk with 11Alive for one reason: to talk about how he hopes he can encourage people to help others, just as so many people have inspired him, people who have a talent or a dollar or strong hands, who find some way to do for others now, no matter how much or little that may be, and whether it’s simply a donation, to the Salvation Army or to another non-profit or charity.
“I’ve heard it said, when mother nature’s at its worst, human nature is at its best."
Out of millions of stimulus checks, Longino’s one check ended up filling up a big “red kettle” in downtown Atlanta, and filling up grateful hearts.
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