ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Most people see Fridays as the start of their weekend, but it’s time to get to work for Salvation Army volunteers.
That Friday Night Patrol helps them feed families one delivery at a time.
“We’re out here, if we have the food to give out, we’re here,” said Friday Night Patrol Coordinator Sharon Polaski.
Every week, the Friday Night Patrol Crew makes their way over to the Salvation Army’s South Madison Street location to bag pre-packaged food, some fresh fruits and veggies, and then hit the streets of Rockford.
“Whether it’s raining or snowing, or we have hot, hot weather, like we have had with the humidity, or if it’s just a beautiful day,” Polaski said.
Sharon’s husband, Steve, started the program over 20 years ago. When he died, more than four years ago, Sharon and her son kept his legacy alive.
“Both my kids said, ‘Mom, excuse me, you’ve got to continue this,'” she said.
Catherine Salser and her husband help the Polaskis. Instead of going home after a long week of work, they head over to the Salvation Army to serve the community.
“You can’t put a dollar value on that,” Polaski said. “It’s people who are committed to do this and they want to give back to the community, to try and help others.”
Salser added, “It’s not just a ‘Quick! Feed them and run!’ We’re actually connecting with these people every Friday.”
It’s personal for Salser. Her husband went through the Salvation Army’s rehabilitation program to overcome a drug addiction.
In the hopes of getting clean, he started volunteering for the Friday Night Patrol.
“I went, on Friday nights, to be with him and support him, through his journey of becoming clean and sober,” she said.
And, for the last three years, he’s done just that.
“His journey, every day, to stay clean and sober, because every day, he needs to see this and go, ‘this could have and at one point, was me,'” she said.
The team tries to help out dozens of families every week. Salser says she’s encountered people from all walks of life and anyone can help at any time.
“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Everybody has a story. Everybody has issues,” Salser said. “Any one of us, at any time, can have that trigger and slip into their world. They’re people, too.”
The program only works if there is food to distribute, weekly. To volunteer or drop off donations, please call 815-962-7207.