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Salvation Army seeks volunteers for training

WORTHINGTON -- The Salvation Army's Minnesota headquarters in Roseville has offered trainings for its volunteers in the metro area for years. Now, the internationally-known volunteer organization is expanding its reach by offering trainings in outstate Minnesota.

Kim Sheets, Salvation Army field representative for southwest Minnesota, is hosting a training exercise from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 14 at Worthington's Pizza Ranch. Salvation Army volunteers must be age 18 or older, in good physical health and want to help in the event of a disaster. The training is open to a maximum of 22 individuals, and pre-registration is required by calling Sheets at (507) 326-5017 by Oct. 12.

"We all have our own talents, some of us work better with people and some of us have the muscles," Sheets said. "Everyone has their own talents and we can use all of them."

Among Salvation Army volunteers are farmers, social workers, pastors, single mothers and people of all walks of life, Sheets said.

"If you've ever had the urge to do something like this, we're giving you the chance," she said.

The training will provide volunteers with an overview of the Salvation Army -- its mission and why it does what it does. In addition, the event will focus specifically on food service during a disaster.

"We do a lot of the feeding (for disaster victims and workers) and we have to abide by health standards like everyone else," Sheets said.

A similar training was offered recently in Redwood Falls.

Sheets said the volunteer trainings in Greater Minnesota grew out of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when so many people offered to help with cleanup efforts in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast.

The benefits of the training include certifying attendees as trained Salvation Army volunteers. Sheets said identification cards will be provided for each individual who completes the training program. That card can be used by the individual when responding to a disaster.

"(When a) disaster hits a small community ... everyone wants to help," Sheets said. "The National Guard blocks (non-residents) from entering these communities. ... (With the) photo ID, when a disaster hits, you can flash that to the National Guard and you are allowed in a community."

The Oct. 14 training will prepare volunteers for both a local and a national disaster. Sheets said that when a local disaster occurs, the trained volunteers are often the first on the scene. As for national disasters, trained volunteers are asked to commit to two weeks of assistance.

"It doesn't mean you are committed to come, but if you are available and have the time to come, you are eligible to do that," she said.

Following Hurricane Katrina, Sheets said more than 80 trained volunteers from Minnesota have helped in the cleanup efforts in New Orleans, La.

The Salvation Army responds to any kind of disaster, whether it's weather-related or not. The organization was called in to assist Lake Wilson following the explosion at the community's fire hall a couple of years ago, and has helped numerous communities with cleanup efforts following tornado destruction.

"Disasters happen every day," Sheets added.

The Salvation Army was established more than 200 years ago in England by the Rev. William Booth. The organization assisted on the front lines during World War I and has offered its help during wars and countless disasters ever since. In Minnesota, the Salvation Army provides treatment facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and homeless shelters -- all in an effort to help those in need.

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Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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