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Bangor Salvation Army needs funding after coronavirus closes thrift stores

The Bangor Salvation Army is providing cold lunches to people seven days a week during the COVID-19 pandemic -- but it has temporarily lost its main funding source.

BANGOR, Maine — On Thursday afternoon, staff at the Bangor Salvation Army are surprisingly cheery, laughing and joking around, as they hand out bagged lunches to people who have become a part of their community. It's been a tough week for Maine, as the number of coronavirus cases have continued to climb -- and the Salvation Army hasn't been immune to challenges.

As part of its efforts to keep staff and visitors safe, the Bangor Salvation Army has decided to close its soup kitchen, moving operations to its disaster truck to serve cold lunches seven days a week, compared to hot meals six days a week. 

"We want to keep our community safe because this is a community that we love (and that) we put a lot of time and energy into," James Moors, the Salvation Army soup kitchen and EDS coordinator, explained to NEWS CENTER Maine. "We want to conserve that, essentially."

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But staff members have recently run into a new problem. In an effort to keep people healthy, they've decided to close thrift stores in Bangor and Newport. Donated goods are sold at these stores, and the proceeds fund the Salvation Army's daily operations -- so losing that revenue could cause problems.

"In closing those stores, which we know is the right thing to do right now, we’re really pulling back on all of that really steady funding that we have," Captain Rebecca Kirk told NEWS CENTER Maine. "We’re in a position where we have services to provide without having that steady stream of funding."

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Some thrift store employees who are now in limbo have decided to help out at the disaster truck, handing out meals to those in need between 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m.

"I personally think (this work is) important because you kind of get to see the other half of the community -- that other people may not see but the Salvation Army does," Brianna Dow, a cashier at the Bangor thrift store, said. She has been coming to the Salvation Army since she was a baby and says it means a lot to her to be able to help out.

"We see a lot of people come in who really need help, who really just can’t get out there," Dow expressed. "They come here for a place of safety."

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There are ways you can help out, if you're interested. Staff at the Bangor Salvation Army say they're accepting cash donations at 65 South Park Street or via mail to P.O. box 1101. 

Gift cards and gas cards will also help the Salvation Army to continue its mission to feed people in need -- and start delivering meals to people who may not be able to leave their homes, if necessary. 

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here.

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