HARTFORD, CT - At the end of March, a woman came to The Salvation Army Citadel Corps, located on Washington Street in Hartford, asking for help. Because of the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19, she and her family had needs they had never dealt with before. She wasn’t sure what she needed to do to get help; all she knew was her family needed critical food, diapers and baby wipes.
This working mother of five, who is now staying at home with her children, found hope and sustenance at The Salvation Army’s Curbside Food Pantry program that day. Within three hours, the Corps had served approximately 80 families with food and other non-food supplies, including 45 first-time, new families. The line for help went down to the corner, and it was growing.
Through a window of the Hartford Corps, Major JR Fritsch asked the mother a few questions and then went to give the food order to his wife Major Candy Fritsch. Majors Candy and JR, along with a handful of staff, had been serving increased numbers of people in need for the last two weeks. The exhaustion was evident, and there was no end in sight. Major Candy bagged together enough food for three days for a family of six, including a gallon of milk, diapers and diaper wipes, which the mother was unable to find in the stores.
Major JR put the bags of groceries on the porch for the mother to pick up, and when she saw what was there for her family, she began to cry. She was so overcome with emotion, she nearly fell to the ground. “I can’t believe this is all for me,” she said in disbelief. Major JR replied, “Ma’am, this is what we are here for. This is why we do what we do.” In that moment, the two found comfort in the gratefulness of one another. It wouldn’t be the last time she would come to The Salvation Army for help. They both knew that. This would be a long haul for everyone, and The Salvation Army will be there, providing food, providing hope and providing comfort every day.