Each year, the Salvation Army hosts its annual Ambassador’s Ball fund raiser to celebrate the ways the group changes lives in the community.
But this year, the coronavirus had other plans.
In a year like no other, the Salvation Army has decided to throw a gala like no other, moving festivities virtually to a live telethon and variety show, accompanied by an online auction.
"With the coronavirus, we did not think it wise to gather together," shared Major Paul Egan Corps Officer of The Salvation Army. "WSAV has come to our rescue by giving us the opportunity to take this great event to the airwaves."
The virtual fundraiser kicks off at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, and will be hosted by Channel 3 WSAV-TV’s own Tina Tyus-Shaw and Patty Turner.
The variety show fundraiser features several local acts, including rock group, Danielle Hicks and The Resistance; Savannah VOICE Festival artists Scott Joiner and Jessica Fishenfeld; American Traditions Vocal Competition Gold Medalists Mikki Sodergren and Kim Michael Polote; and Phantom of the Opera star Carlton Moe.
Throughout the program, there will also be highlights of Salvation Army volunteers, staff, and the stories of the people the organization helps each day.
"The event reminds us that all are heroes who have teamed up together to make epic changes in lives that impact families and the community for generations to come," Major Egan noted.
"The immense sense of joy and accomplishment everyone feels at the end of the night is palpable," he shared.
Before the telethon, the group will host an online auction, and throughout the fundraiser, viewers can bid on items or make monetary donations to support The Salvation Army’s services in the Coastal Empire.
This year’s fundraising goal is $50,000, which will help pay for coronavirus response measures in the community, including housing, food, and care for local families suffering hardships from the pandemic.
For 120 years, The Salvation Army has served greater Savannah through hurricanes, floods, fires and even the Spanish influenza epidemic over a century ago.
It’s a mission of caring that continues to this day through current challenges, Major Egan shared.
"The funds raised will enable us to continue to shelter, feed and help men, women and children in their time of need," he added. "More than a place to receive a service, we help them discover a pathway of hope."
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the community, The Salvation Army has looked for new ways to serve. For years, The Salvation Army has provided summer day camp and after-school tutoring to the children in Savannah.
The group is working to expand these services to help with the community’s need for virtual learning centers, particularly for students and families who struggle with finding new ways to manage their children’s education.
And though things may look a little different this year, Salvation Army officials say it’s just another challenge the community will face together, as volunteers and staff continue to care for the most vulnerable in the community.
"I think that experience has given us an advantage of understanding that in crises there is often an opportunity for something greater to come about," Major Egan said.