Santander Bank employees donated $1,000 worth of food to The Salvation Army of Reading Citadel today, as part of an ongoing commitment to the underserved community in which they work, live and serve.
The Salvation Army expects to serve twice as many people this year than last, due to the impact of COVID-19, and has launched a campaign to Rescue Christmas by raising money earlier than normal to provide for the needs of the communities it serves
“We collected this during Hispanic Heritage Month,” explained Natalia Dominguez Buckley, Co-Leader of Conexión, a Latino employee network within Santander Bank.
“We know our communities are really suffering during these trying times. It’s important for us to provide support in our own community, especially in this heavily Latino-concentrated area.”
Conexión has 180 members throughout Pennsylvania, including in Reading, Allentown, and Philadelphia bank branches. In addition to providing a $30,000 grant each year for The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program which helps families break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, Santander Bank also supports The Salvation Army’s Christmas Angel Tree program by collecting gifts for area children and families in need. Bank workers volunteer their time sorting toys at The Salvation Army and helping clean the facility.
“We are so grateful for Santander Bank’s partnership with us,” shared Major Darren Mudge, Commanding Officer of The Salvation Army of Reading Citadel.
“All of this donated food will help us make a larger impact here in our community where 60% of the residents live under the federal poverty level. We distribute food to about 500 people a month and have served well over 300,000 meals since the pandemic. These donations will help us continue feeding those in need.”
“It makes us happy to know the food will not go to waste,” said Erick Martinez, Co-Leader of Conexión.
“People often support a national or international cause and, while there’s nothing wrong with that, we definitely wanted the food to stay right here in our community and help our Hispanic brothers and sisters who are really struggling to make ends meet.”
With Reading having its first Latino mayor, Eddie Moran, sworn in last January, along with Joe Sigle, Senior Vice President and Region Head of MidAtlantic Commercial Banking for Santander Bank, sitting on the board of The Salvation Army of Reading, the decision was easy for Conexión members to give the food donations to The Salvation Army of Reading.
“We are doing everything that we can to help this community,” remarked Major Mudge. “In addition to providing food for those in need, we expect to give toys to 4,500 children this year and gifts to 850 seniors and veterans. Our friends at Santander Bank are already in the giving spirit. We hope that those in the community who can give will catch the spirit and help us bring joy to those who are hurting this year.”
Santander Bank’s support for the Salvation Army kicks off a season-long initiative of giving to families in need to help Rescue Christmas. With the global pandemic causing factors like unemployment and less cash and coins in hand, as well as online shopping and brick-and-mortar retail stores closing, a decrease of up to 50% in red kettle funds is expected this year.
Recognizing this, the Salvation Army is partnering with retailers and other businesses to stand up red kettles early this year and collect donations to benefit at-risk families and communities. Angel tree donations are also being accepted, allowing participants to purchase holiday gifts for children in need and give the gifts to the Salvation Army, which will distribute to the families.