PODCAST: Salvation Army Launches Holiday Fundraiser Early (UCNN 9.17.20)

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According to the Christian Post, Facing a possible drop of up to 50% in fundraising from its iconic Red Kettle Campaign and a 155% increase in demand for its social services, The Salvation Army is launching its annual holiday fundraising campaign early for the first time in 130 years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dale Bannon, The Salvation Army’s national community relations and development secretary, said, “The pandemic has brought about just incredible crises for families all across America. Many of the families we serve, some of them have lost their jobs, some of them have been impacted and have had COVID in their own families. And when you lose income and you’re sick and you can’t afford basic necessities for your family like food, rent, utilities, it puts you at a crisis that you’ve never experienced before. We have had waitresses. I think of one in Indiana … She said, ‘I’m a single mom. I have two kids and I’ve been doing very well until I was laid off from my job.’ She said, ‘This is the first time I’ve had to ask for help and I just need food for my family.’ That story is amplified by the thousands, … millions that we’ve seen all across our country.” Since March, America’s largest social services organization has provided more than 100 million meals, 1.5 million nights of safe shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to over 800,000 people through 7,600 centers of operation across the country. As they look forward to Christmas, The Salvation Army is now being forced to get creative in its fundraising work as the pandemic threatens giving through the Red Kettle Campaign, which raised $126 million through about 30,000 red kettles last year alone. On Sunday, the Christian organization, whose founders sought to bring salvation to the poor, destitute and hungry, released its “Help Rescue Christmas” campaign video to the soundtrack of two-time Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum selling artist Lauren Daigle’s hit “Rescue,” which was described as the anthem for the campaign. Bannon said, “We’re anticipating just with the shortage of cash, there’s also less retail stores than there were last year, we’ve got to do something and do it early to communicate to the American public. Help us meet the needs of people this Christmas.”

According to Business Insider, According to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, very few children who’ve gotten sick with the coronavirus have died. Of the 391,814 cases of COVID-19 — as well as the rare infection linked to it, pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome — that the CDC recorded between February 12 and July 31 of this year, only 121 (about 0.03%) were deadly. But among those 121 young decedents, few were white. The CDC reported that just 17 of those recorded fatalities were in white children, compared with 35 deaths of Black children, and 54 Hispanic deaths. Dr. Uché Blackstock, founder of Advancing Health Equity, said, “The data is horrifying, but not surprising to me. Where you see marginalization and disadvantage, you’re going to find coronavirus.” The data doesn’t match up with the demographics of the US as a whole: white children comprise about 50% of the kids in the country, according to the Kids Count Data Center, but accounted for only 14% of the childhood COVID-19 deaths. Black children, meanwhile, make up 14% of that same population, but accounted for more than double their ratio in deaths, at 28.9%. The over-representation of Hispanic and Native communities in COVID deaths is even more stark. One of the key reasons the CDC suspects so many children of color are dying from the coronavirus is because they live in the same households as adults of color, who are more likely to be essential workers, and exposed to the virus on the job. Blackstock said, “Their risk of being infected is higher than white children.”

According to the Christian Post, White, self-identified Christians in the United States have become less motivated to address racial injustice and are less likely to believe that the country has a race problem compared to last year, according to a new report by the Barna Group. In findings made public on Tuesday, Barna reported that 33% of white self-identified Christians believe that the United States “definitely” has a race problem, down from 40% last year. By contrast, 81% of black self-identified Christians agreed that the nation “definitely” has a race problem, up from 75% in 2019. Hispanic self-identified Christians stayed about the same, with 54% responding “definitely” in 2019 and 55% responding the same in 2020. Barna also found that from 2019-2020, the number of white self-identified Christians who felt “very motivated” to address racial injustice dropped from 14% to 10%.

According to the Christian Post, A record number of baptisms took place at a beach in Orange County over the weekend, as believers professed their faith in Jesus Christ at Southern California’s latest “spiritual revival.” Nearly 1,000 people turned out at the Chino Hills-based Calvary Chapel’s outdoor baptism, which was held at Newport Beach’s Corona Del Mar State Beach on Saturday. While Calvary Chapel hosts a baptism at Corona Del Mar Beach every year, Pastor Jack Hibbs described the baptism as “our biggest to date.” “California may be experiencing a spiritual revival,” Calvary Chapel Church Director Gina Gleason told CBN News in an interview. She said that the turnout at this year’s outdoor baptism was “remarkable and a significant number,” far exceeding the typical turnout of around 300 attendees. “Spiritual revivals” at the beach have become a common sight in southern California as believers grapple with restrictions imposed on religious services amid the coronavirus pandemic. In July, the group Saturate OC held “powerful worship sessions on the beach” every Friday night, where attendees had the opportunity to “hear the gospel,” “be baptized in the ocean,” and “be filled with the Holy Spirit and be set free.”

According to NBC News, A California deputy who was critically injured after being shot in what authorities described as an ambush over the weekend was released from the hospital Wednesday, Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. Villanueva tweeted, “He has a long road ahead for recovery. But he’s not alone. We, as a community, are in this together.” The deputy, a 24-year-old man, was one of two officers shot by a gunman as they sat in their patrol car in Compton about 7 p.m. Saturday. The second deputy, a 31-year-old woman with a young son, was also critically injured in the shooting. Her condition wasn’t clear Wednesday. Authorities are still searching for a suspect. The sheriff’s department has offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest and conviction.

According to the New York Times, Jerry Harris, a fan favorite on the Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” was arrested and charged with production of child pornography in a federal court in Chicago on Thursday. Prosecutors said Mr. Harris repeatedly enticed a 13-year-old boy to produce sexually explicit videos and photos of himself and send them to Mr. Harris. In an interview with law enforcement officials on Monday, the complaint says, Mr. Harris, 21, admitted to asking for and receiving child pornography from at least 10 to 15 individuals he knew were minors. He also admitted to having sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading event in 2019. A representative for Mr. Harris did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Harris was sued in Texas on Monday by two of the boys, twin brothers who say he sent and requested sexually explicit messages via text and social media and asked one of the them for sex at a cheerleading competition. The boys are not named in the lawsuit or the complaint because they are minors.

According to USA Today, Former President Barack Obama announced Thursday he plans to release his first presidential memoir. In it, he recounts his experiences during his years in the White House and addresses what he thinks must be done to “heal our divisions.” “A Promised Land,” scheduled for release Nov. 17, will cover his “improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world” and “landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency,” according to the book’s official website. Obama tweeted, “There’s no feeling like finishing a book, and I’m proud of this one. In A Promised Land, I try to provide an honest accounting of my presidency, the forces we grapple with as a nation, and how we can heal our divisions and make democracy work for everybody.” The new memoir will also cover Obama assembling his cabinet, dealing with a global financial crisis, and share his thoughts on Vladimir Putin, passing the Affordable Care Act and authorizing the mission that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. This is Obama’s fourth book and first since leaving the White House. His previous titles are 1995’s “Dreams from My Father,” 2006’s “The Audacity of Hope” and 2010 children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.”

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