Salvation Army Foundation

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I learned some interesting details about my family. My great grandfather, Grandpa Erikson, who I never met, has an interesting connection with the Salvation Army. The retelling of this story by my dad was an eye opener for me. I’m sure I’ve been told details of this story before, but it was really neat to hear my dad tell the story to my son Isaac after we had passed one of the Salvation Army holiday donation collectors during our visit to the mall. Well, here’s the story as best I can remember…

Apparently, my great grandfather was quite a wild young man. He traveled by boat from Sweden and some how ended up in California. From what I understand, he got into trouble with the law and had quite a taste for alcohol. Somehow, he showed up one Sunday morning at the Salvation Army church looking to cause problems in his drunken stupor. While he was at the service, he never had the chance to make any trouble as he was too plastered. There happened to be a young lady at the service who had pity on my great grandfather. Eventually, she married him and he cleaned up his life and committed his life to Christ. As time went on, she had a son. When he was six (or so), they both died of some sort of illness. The story doesn’t end here.

Grandpa Erikson later met another lady who he married. They had a daughter who became my grandmother. When my dad was younger, Grandpa Erikson passed away, and Grandma Erikson moved in with this family. For several years, Grandma Erikson would take my dad and my Aunt Elaine to downtown Oakland to put money in one of the red Salvation Army pots. They would take the bus downtown and put the money that she had set aside for this purpose. She told my dad that this was a way to show her gratitude for Grandpa Erikson’s first wife who had been so instrumental in introducing him to Christ. As Grandma Erikson grew older and she couldn’t make the bus trip any longer, she would send my dad by himself downtown with her money to deposit in the Salvation Army’s donation pot. This became an annual tradition.

Since then, my dad has made a point every year to empty his pockets of any loose change into a Salvation Army pot. Dad has also been involved with the Salvation Army on and off throughout his career. A big reason for this is that he wants to continue the tradition by remembering the role that the Salvation Army has had it setting a Christian foundation for his family.

I’m sure that Dad told this story because he’s great at telling stories; however, I’m know that the real reason was to pass along this tradition to my son and me. I am honored.

Until the next post, take a second look when you hear that hand bell ringing…