The Crusader Newspaper Group

Hardship cases multiplying in Lake County

The Salvation Army seeing more than a 500% increase in emergency services

As life goes on in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, people will look back with amazing stories of support and resilience like a recent couple relocating in the hopes of a new beginning.

Last Wednesday, a homeless couple, Joe and Darlene, visited The Salvation Army of Lake County’s Hammond-Munster Corps Community Center. The couple had driven to northwest Indiana from Tennessee with the promise of a new job for Joe. When they arrived in Hammond they found that the employer had closed for business due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving them and their dog to live in their van without food or a source of income.

Kevin, a Salvation Army employee immediately contacted the manager of a local hotel to get Joe and Darlene a room for a day or two, while the Community Center’s social worker, Sherwin, went to work assisting them with other urgent needs, like securing another job and a longer-term housing solution.

Since the week of March 7th when the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic were being realized, The Salvation Army of Lake County has been seeing the numbers of individuals and households seeking assistance multiply.

“We are now seeing more than five times the number of individuals and families visiting our food pantries in Lake County,” said Captain Brian Clark, Lake County Coordinator for The Salvation Army. “There has been a 67 percent increase in requests for other emergency services too!” said the Captain.

The other emergency services on the increase are…

  • Housing Assistance and Eviction Prevention
  • Utilities and Water Shut-Off Prevention
  • Employment and Finances Counseling.

In addition to the tremendous increase in need for food pantry assistance and other emergency services, Lieutenant Abraham Marin of the East Chicago Corps Community Center said that there has been a 28% increase in the number of individuals receiving hot meals Monday through Friday from their Mobile Soup Kitchen.

On March 23rd Strack & Van Til and The Salvation Army in Northwest Indiana kicked off a special, month-long, emergency “Check-Out Challenge” campaign at all Strack & Van Til Food Markets in Lake, Porter and Jasper Counties.

Ending on April 19, the cashiers at Strack & Van Til stores will be appealing to their customers to “round-up” their grocery bill to the nearest dollar at checkout. The funds raised by the special Check-Out Challenge is designated to provide food to the residents of the three counties who are in distress due to job losses because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are in need of emergency services due to the COVID-19 crisis, or would like to partner with The Salvation Army to help your neighbors in need, visit for more information.

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