You may know The Salvation Army from its slogan, "Doing the Most Good," or its members ringing the donation bell outside your supermarket around Christmas. But the organization's focus on emergency services became even more pronounced following the devastation of Hurricane Maria last year.

Capt. Cindy-Lou Drummond, divisional secretary of The Salvation Army in New Jersey, said volunteers leaving the U.S. mainland accounted for just a portion of the 956,340 hours volunteered by 48,612 individuals in 2017, providing 2.74 million services to people across the state — and beyond.

"We have opportunities that take us not only locally, but with recent disasters, we've actually gone nationally and even to Puerto Rico during the recent hurricane," Drummond said.

She calls volunteers "the army behind the Army," and emphasized a variety of opportunities available on an annual or seasonal basis: food and toy drives, feeding the homeless, working in soup kitchens, stocking food pantries, packing backpacks for children in need, teaching ESL and music classes, and yes, ringing those Christmas bells.

Corporations, community groups, and first responder units like fire departments are also long-standing participants, as are kids, whether through the Boy or Girl Scouts, their high school Key Clubs and honor societies, colleges and universities, or mentoring programs like one currently found in Camden.

Often, those younger volunteers will find that the tasks they do closely mirror their desired career path, with social work at the top of that list.

At, all those who want to volunteer can apply, providing their location and the ways in which they'd like to help. There's also an opportunity to contribute in a monetary way.

"It's only because of the generous support of our donors and volunteers that we're able to do the things that we're doing, and what we're known to do," Drummond said.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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