Volunteer Terri Muendel believes The Salvation Army will face some of the greatest need that it has seen in 140 years of serving Australians.
After more than five decades of knocking on doors each May, the charity has moved its annual Red Shield Appeal online to help those doing it tough.
Money raised across the Hunter during the digital door knock campaign will stay in the region, helping to fund a range of social programs, including the provision of food parcels and community meals, as well as crisis support for people experiencing unemployment, domestic violence, homelessness, and addiction.
Mrs Muendel, who is an Auxiliary Lieutenant with the Eastlakes branch, says this year’s fundraising effort will focus on a need for more homeless services in the region.
“There are youth, women’s and children’s homeless and domestic violence services but not a lot for men, so we’d really like to see something get kick-started,” she says.
“We’re hoping to raise about $24,000 for Eastlakes, which is basically within the Charlestown to Caves Beach area.
“It’s not until the end of May and we’ve already got more than $3,000, so we’re confident that we’ll hit [the target].”
The Salvation Army’s most recent annual report noted its social services provided more than one million sessions of care to Australians in need; helped 46,000 people experiencing homelessness; provided financial counselling to more than 65,000; and offered care to 13,000 people who were coping with family violence.
The past year also saw an ongoing response to drought, while the charity’s emergency services responded to the rolling bushfire crisis by providing more than 500,000 meals and refreshments to first responders and displaced people.
Mrs Muendel believes people may be more hesitant to donate to the Red Shield Appeal this year due to a negative reaction to some charities after the devastating bushfires.
However, she says The Salvation Army has put a long-term process in place to help victims.
“There’s been some negativity with the bushfires and charities not giving out their money,” Mrs Muendel says.
“When we look at our bushfire appeal, it is a two-or-three-year project for us – people are still homeless, so we are supporting them through that process of getting a home.
“With the trauma and getting their head around everything, it can take people time to ask for help.
“So, the public is looking and going: ‘How come there’s still money in the coffers that hasn’t been going out?’
“But we are going to help people to educate their kids, buy a new car and all that sort of stuff for years down the track.”
Visit The Salvation Army’s digital door knock website and use a suburb or postcode to find your nearest Red Shield Appeal.