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Salvation Army Waco in need of volunteers

Posted at 4:51 PM, Mar 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-24 12:36:02-04

WACO — The Salvation Army of Waco is hoping to recruit more emergency disaster response volunteers.

This type of volunteer has to be wiling and ready to help when disaster strikes. Some even needing to be deployed to other locations across the country if needed.

Most recently, the emergency response team drove to Panama City after Hurricane Michael hit where they spent several days helping others by preparing meals, water, prayer and any other service that is asked.

The Salvation Army Waco operates a mobile feeding unit they call a "canteen" which they take to areas in need. The canteen has a full functioning kitchen they can use to cook over a thousand meals a day.

One of the few that know how to run the canteen is Wayne Branscum. He has been volunteering as an emergency responder for 50 years.

"Started when I was 16-years-old. Went out to a local fire with water kegs and sandwiches and such," Branscum said.

After that day he never left, he grew an appetite to help those in need. Knowing he was doing something so small as provide water or a sandwich meant the world to him.

He's responded to disasters all over the county, being one of the few that drove to Panama City in the canteen. The Salvation Army of Waco hopes to have more like him.

"If you only have three or four people that you can recruit and draft and go. They're going to get tired pretty quick you need to have replacements," Major Jim Taylor with the Salvation Army said.

The thought of being trained to volunteer when disaster hits doesn't come across many minds until its too late. According to the Salvation Army, many disaster sites now require people wanting to help to have a certification or badge, that designates you to a specific group called to help.

"People don't really think about disasters until they happen and then all of a sudden you got all these people that want to help because they want to do something for their neighbor. That's a good thing, we appreciate that," Taylor said. "What we need is we need people who are trained."

Without those who are trained there isn't any one to guide other volunteers as to how to help. Branscum was shocked about how something so small could make others so happy when they are in need.

"And you couldn't go to McDonald's because it was destroyed too. You couldn't go to Starbucks and get coffee they couldn't even make coffee in their homes so when they walked up one of the first questions, 'Do you have coffee?' Yes we have coffee! Branscum said.

Volunteering as an emergency response service provider can be a difficult task at times but you will gain memories that last a lifetime.

"You don't really understand until you've been there. Everyday they were coming up and hugging our necks from being there. "Thank you, Thank you, Thank you." And it was like overwhelming I mean it's like, this is the reward that I get," Branscum said.

For more information on how to become a emergency disaster response volunteer call the Salvation Army of Waco at 254-756-7271 or visit their website for more information.