Coronavirus: Salvation Army's Southern California branch takes financial hit amid pandemic, making it difficult to help the vulnerable

The closure of the Salvation Army's thrift stores has caused a ripple effect throughout the organization, making it difficult to help those in need.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Some of the most vulnerable during the coronavirus crisis are the homeless and people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

One year ago this week, an ABC7 report showed how the Salvation Army was helping thousands of Southern Californians turn their lives around. Now, the Salvation Army is asking for the public's help.

"Right now we're hanging on with a hope and a prayer," the nonprofit's Lt. Timothy Pemberton said.

The Salvation Army has been helping men and women get off the streets and back on their feet for more than 130 years -- all at no charge.

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"Either they come to us from the street, or they come to us from incarceration, or they come to us because they've gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired," Pemberton said. "And what we do here we help them to learn a new way to live."

Most of the organization's funding comes from its thrift stores, all of which are now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Salvation Army's western territory has lost more than $6 million dollars in the past month.

And at a Santa Monica facility alone, "right around $400,000 or so is what we've lost over the one month," Pemberton said.

These days, the Salvation Army's staff and those it serves all wear masks -- including a group of men who are part of a six-month in-patient program that includes prayer, drug and alcohol counseling, and building work and life skills.

"I was a known documented gang member. All I did out there was just destroy lives, didn't care about nothing, no one. It was either being in prison or being in society hurting others," said one man. "If I hadn't gone through this program, I'd probably be doing a life sentence or dead from a drug overdose."

Donations to the Salvation Army's Santa Monica Adult Rehabilitation Center can be made here.
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